Fantasia 2020: Climate Of The Hunter

  • Director: Mickey Reece
  • Writer: Mickey Reece & John Selvidge
  • Stars: Ginger Gilmartin, Mary Buss, Ben Hall

Review

Writer/director Mickey Reece self describes his films as “people talking in rooms” and Climate of the Hunter (playing as part of Fantasia 2020) is no exception. Viewed as an indie film auteur, he is known for cranking out a lot of films in a short span of time. This all sounds like you may be in store for a crudely put together film that is boring to boot, but Reece and his team used a shoestring budget to put together a beautiful film with an exceptionally on point 70’s esthetic and vibe.

Starring Ginger Gilmartin as Alma and Mary Buss as her sister Elizabeth, these two women barely get along and only tolerate each other because they’re related to one another. In a remote cabin, they trade barbs and wallow in their disdain of one another’s life choices. The arrival of a childhood friend throws a thorn into their daily banter and the two slowly begin to turn on each other for a whole new reason: the attention of a man.

Wesley (Ben Hall) knew Alma and Elizabeth twenty years ago and this is the first time he has been back to the neighboring cabin. His arrival is very dramatic and comes complete with a hilarious zoom shot to really send home how cool this guy is supposed to be. In fact, through out the film, Reece utilizes pan and zoom shots so expertly that you start feeling as though you are watching a genuine 70’s era film. Lighting, special effects (I use this term very loosely) and the score all make for a throwback that doesn’t feel cheesy or like an easy gimmick. Any question of the love and care that was taken in creating the overall ambiance of the film is answered with the food. Because it is a lot of people talking in rooms, they mostly do it over a dinner table and each meal is given an overhead shot of the food and a small female voice tells us what is being served and it is all of that disgusting food that people thought was high class in the 60’s and 70’s: 7 Layer Sandwich Cake, Cheese Fondu, Jello Salad, Deviled Eggs, Cherry Cherry Cheese Pie. Basically, production designer Kaitlyn Shelby pulled off a Betty Crocker version of what Janice Poon accomplished on Hannibal. She made very controversial food choices look beautiful and made the food an essential character. Shelby should be applauded for everything that she did on Climate of the Hunter: without her, it would just be people in an old cabin trying to pretend that they’re happy and we would be guessing what decade they’re supposed to be in.

The main crux of the film is one giant question. Is Wesley a vampire or did his wife go crazy just because? Is Wesley a vampire or is Alma succumbing to her mental illness demons? Is Wesley a vampire or are these women just so desperate for male attention that they will fight over any man, even if he’s long in the tooth and coughs up a tampon? Is Wesley a vampire or does he really have so much sexual magnetism that Alma’s young, hot daughter just cant resist him? If Wesley is a vampire, does it really matter?

There is an underlying current of outdated sexual politics trying to speak on modern day issues  and it doesn’t always work, but it’s appreciated. The dark humor doesn’t necessarily land on all points either, but nit picking doesn’t serve anyone.  Overall, Climate of the Hunter hits all of it’s intended marks. It’s a strange comedy disguised as a horror throwback with some melodrama and a lot of talking. And really disgusting time appropriate food.

Climate Of The Hunter played at Fantasia Film Festival 2020

Lisa Fremont

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