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Film Review: An Ode to the Arthouse Form of Storytelling, “Climate of the Hunter” Reintroduces the Vampire Mythology

Written by: Adam Vaughn | December 23rd, 2020

Film poster: “Climate of the Hunter”

Climate of the Hunter (Mickey Reece, 2019) 2½ out of 4 stars.

Director Mickey Reece (Strike, Dear Mistress, and Cure His Heart) takes a poke at the vampire genre with his latest release, Climate of the Hunter, a film that delivers an abstract, avant-garde aesthetic. Climate of the Hunter finds the most creative measures of telling a story that, though marketed as supernatural, quickly tilts more towards a psychological thriller and cinematic drama. While effective, the story lacks any significant luster or surprises to make it memorable or remarkable.

Climate of the Hunter follows two women, Alma (Ginger Gilmartin) and Elizabeth (Mary Buss), who, while vacationing at a remote cabin in the woods, get an unexpected visit from a friend of theirs from overseas. While Wesley (Ben Hall), a suave and handsome man, sets out to woo and reacquaint himself with the two women, Alma suspects that Wesley is much more dangerous than he appears (and possibly a vampire). Even while borrowing from a Twilight-style, vampire-meets-girl drama/action, or the latest version of the classic Dracula, Climate of the Hunter stands firmly as its own visionary take on the vampire mythos, honing in on the themes of human nature and isolation to move the story forward.

Ginger Gilmartin in CLIMATE OF THE HUNTER ©Dark Star Pictures

 

The mise-en-scène, cinematography and editing do the film the most justice, creating various tableaux of women dealing with their age, sexual frustrations and paranoia. The poetry behind the writing gives it its very own mystery and symbolic appeal. Yet this same poetry often misleads or overwhelms when laid on a little too heavily (actor Ben Hall’s numerous monologues, while intriguing, tend to lead nowhere fast). 

Unfortunately, the abstract nature of Climate of the Hunter does too much competing with the storyline for the audience’s attention. The film tries to throw a lot of content into a single film, when its overall premise and characters are enough to create a solid, gripping story. Various representational images, some presented in the form of dreams that the character Alma has, leave more questions than answers, and the introduction of Wesley’s wife Genevieve (Laurie Cummings) never adds any tremendous or connecting thematic elements, merely throwing the viewer off. The acting from the main cast, overall, waivers from decent to cringeworthy. Ultimately, the film detaches from the original concept, and sacrifices superb content for the sake of abstractionism and arthouse vibes, leaving the audience with a visually compelling but narratively compromised story.

Ben Hall in CLIMATE OF THE HUNTER ©Dark Star Pictures

Both the detailed visuals and the insightful dialogue allow the viewer to think deeply about the story, and at times look inward to discover the film’s meaning. Yet Reece never lets the film breathe from its arthouse foundations to fully function as a start-to-finish narrative journey. For a concept as distinctive as Climate of the Hunter’s premise, the overall exploration is one that feels as if it’s missing a touch of genuine realism needed to bring this story to its peak.

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Adam Vaughn is a graduate of the Film & Moving Image program at Stevenson University, with a focus in Cinematography and Production. He also has a minor in Theater and Media Performance. Adam works as a freelance photographer and videographer, focusing his craft on creating compelling photographic and cinematic imagery. Adam is excited to join the Film Festival Today team and explore the world of cinema and visual arts.

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