Monday, March 11, 2019

The Season Is Open

I don't know what it says about my morality, but there are few subgenres I enjoy quite as much as a good old variation on The Most Dangerous Game. Hence, to Netflix we go for 2016's Happy Hunting (and my conscience).

Quick Plot: Warren is a lifelong alcoholic, eking out something of an existence by selling fake drugs to dangerous meth-heads. When a sale goes wrong, Warren flees, landing in a sleepy Texas border town called Bedford Falls and befriending the tad-too-friendly AA leader Steve, who brings him home to clear his brain cells with his tad-too-cheerful wife Cheryl.

After further clearing his head with a dose of bathroom horse tranquilizer, Warren wakes up bound with a batch of other ne'er do wells. Turns out, every year, Bedford Falls shakes off its tumbleweeds with a human hunt, casting the most undesirable men within city limits as prey.

Deep in withdrawal, Warren proves to be spryer than you'd expect for a man whose sobriety is a thing of distant past. Battling a grizzled senior hunter, trio of bloodthirsty siblings, and the Ned Flanders-ish horrors of Steve and Cheryl, he puts up a good fight en route across the Mexican border.

Happy Hunting is written and directed by the debut team of Joe Dietsch and Louie Gibson (son of Mel). Its pacing is messy, dragging in its first third with a bigger-than-necessary setup and rushing a bit in its middle. At the same time, it's beautifully shot in a steaming desert and well-scored with some fittingly Western-style tones. As Warren, Martin Dingle Wall makes a solid, interestingly flawed center that helps to keep the whole thing together.

It's not a new classic, but Happy Hunting is a solid action thriller that brings some new ideas to a fun subgenre. Plus...

High Points
Bear trap! There's a bear trap and like Most Dangerous Games, I sure do love a bear trap!

Low Points
The only thing I hate more than I love a bear trap is a cruel ending. While Happy Hunting has a harsh spirit throughout that probably doesn't warrant a finale involving ice cream sundaes, there's something especially mean and somewhat culturally questionable about this one

Lessons Learned
Hell hath no fury like a recently widowed relapsed Christian alcoholic

Open windows and most dangerous games are not the best of friends

Any town with a an overabundance of mannequins is not a place to spend the night


Much like Mel Gibson's directorial output, Happy Hunting is a pretty well-put together trek of vicious violence. I don't know that I loved watching it, but it's sharply done, and packs some surprises (plus, bear trap!).

No comments:

Post a Comment