The Hunter (2011) Movie Review
Directed by Daniel Nettheim
Starring Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill and Morgana Davies
Available from Magnolia Home Entertainment
Reviewer: Horrorphilia Jason
The Lowdown: A solid story, another great performance from Dafoe, and for some, a drama that’s well worth your time.
Martin David (Willem Dafoe) is hired by a biological research company to hunt down a recently spotted Tasmanian Tiger and bring it back for it’s dna. When he arrives in Tasmania, he ends up staying with a woman named Lucy and her two kids, Sass and Bike. He finds out that the husband/dad has recently been gone missing and the family is having a tough time dealing with it. The locals don’t like Martin poking his head around their territory, so he has to deal with them while also hunting for the Tiger during the day. Along the way he becomes attached to the family, and the company who hired him is out to get their results by all means necessary.
This movie came out of nowhere and hopefully it doesn’t go back there. I never saw a trailer, advertisement, or anything until a few weeks until release. It’s terrific production and another world class performance by Willem Dafoe but it hasn’t been getting much love. I’ve personally been intrigued by the Tasmanian Tiger since I was a kid so right from the bat the story sounded like something I would be into. By the time the credits rolled I watched a movie totally different than my expectations.
While the movie had the element of Martin David hunting down the Tiger with all his expertise, it was more about his interactions with the family he was staying with. The two children quickly become attached to him and he helps the wife get herself together so she can get on with life. Martin soon starts to realize that there is more to life than the job and maybe he is missing something important to make his life worthwhile. There’s not a ton of dialogue but what there is, is not wasted. The locals don’t want him there and he fears that someone is watching his every move, and he believes there is more to the story than what’s he’s been told.
The movie is based in reality so there are no dramatic shootouts or action scenes which may be disappointing to some. If you are not fully invested in the movie you may even think the hunting aspect of the film with Martin setting up traps is tedious and boring.
You may predict how the last act is going to end but it still manages to keep you guessing while throwing in a few surprises. I won’t spoil it, but I thought the ending was very effective without being too sad or Hollywood happy. Besides the great performance from Dafoe the other leads, especially the kids did a great job. There is one moment of major cgi that had to be used but I thought it was expertly done and added greatly to the film.
The blu-ray transfer is beautiful and there are some interesting special features with interviews and making of segments that are well worth watching. For someone with Dafoe’s resume I was pleasantly surprised to see how he interacted with the young kids on the set. While the movie may not be for everyone but if you are fans of slow moving drama that pays off then it’s worth a watch.
Final Rating: 7/10