Director: David Raymond
Starring: Henry Cavill, Ben Kingsley, Alexandra Daddario, Brendan Fletcher, Nathan Fillion, Eliana Jones and Stanley Tucci
Seasoned cop, Marshall (Cavill) is on the hunt for a serial killer suspected to be involved with the disappearance of dozens of young girls. His investigation leads him to enlist the help of recently retired judge turned vigilante, Cooper (Kingsley), who, together with his partner, Lara (Jones), honey-trap paedophiles and deal out their rather unique version of justice. The type of justice which really takes some balls.
Their search leads them to Simon (Fletcher), a clearly troubled young man with a multiple personality disorder who’s literally frothing at the mouth as he plays mind games with the police to keep them chasing ghosts. Of course, all is not as it seems and as events spiral out of control and the attacks become more personal, it’s a race against time to stop Simon before it’s too late.
Director and writer David Raymond, in his feature debut, has assembled a superb ensemble cast, and creates some genuine moments of tension (there’s a what’s in the box? moment that’ll keep your heart in your mouth), but his inconsistent script dotted with regular plot-holes let down an otherwise disturbingly entertaining psychological thriller. As well as the above nod to Se7en, influences from films such as The Silence of the Lambs and The Bone Collector are quite clear, but unfortunately highlight the fact that Night Hunter isn’t in the same league.
Cavill is on fine smouldering form as he struggles to maintain a relationship with his estranged daughter, torn between allowing her independence and trying to protect her from the horrors he sees daily. Clashing with his boss (Tucci) and profiler Rachel (Daddario) about Simon’s intentions and whether he has an accomplice or not is one of the many serial killer movie clichés on show, but where many films are guilty of being 20 minutes too long, Night Hunter needed an extra 20 minutes to help fill the gaps in some of the backstories that are sadly missing from its 98 minute runtime. There is clearly history between several of the main players, particularly Marshall and Rachel, but we’re not told what that is and the plot suffers because of this.
Director of Photography Michael Barrett makes full use of the freezing Winnipeg wilderness and uses greys, dark blues and other tired looking colours to bleak effect making the interior scenes appear almost as frigid as the exteriors, whilst composer Alex Lu provides a hauntingly atmospheric score that threatens to overshadow the action.
Night Hunter ticks an awful lot of boxes required for this type of film and is a solid entry into the genre, but it’s also full of missed opportunities and could’ve been so much more. David Raymond has shown a lot of potential here and hopefully will learn from mistakes made to come back with a more coherent and complete second effort.
Night Hunter is in select UK cinemas and Digital HD from September 13th.
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Film reviewer for Time and Leisure Magazine, The Movie Waffler and We Are Cult.
Former actor (a regular in The Bill) and voiceover artist with Rhubarb Voices.