Review: The Wild Hunt

The Wild Hunt (2009)

Directed by Alexandre Franchi

Starring Ricky Mabe, Mark Antony Krupa and Trevor Hayes

Being a Canadian means that I have seen more than my fair share of Canadian films. With some exceptions, most of these films look cheaply made, poorly written and depressingly dark in tone. The Wild Hunt, a tale of live-action role-playing that rapidly becomes a version of The Lord of the Flies, fulfills much of this criteria, but at times this film is also compelling, funny and intense.

The story starts off in Montreal, where we see Erik and his girlfriend Lyn living a somewhat dreary existence, and Lyn has decided to go off for a few days to take part in a medieval-style live-action role-playing game that is taking place in the forests somewhere (the filmmakers used an actual medieval event in Quebec as the backdrop for these events, adding to the realism).  Eventually, Erik decides to go to the site too, in part because he hears stories of the sexual antics that go on there, and in part because he wants to save his deteriorating relationship with his girlfriend.

Already there is his brother Bjorn, who is taking his fantasy role as a Viking warrior way to seriously. Apparently he and many others have been spending months getting prepared for this event, and are busy creating personas as Vikings, medieval knights, or Celtic barbarians.  For Erik all this is ridiculous, but he eventually starts to take part in order to get to Lyn, who is being treated like some sort of captive princess by the Celts.

The first half of the movie has some comedy as the various characters try to maintain their fantasy roles yet try to remember that it is all supposed to be a game. (One funny character is this guy who is like the referee of the event, but wears this ridiculous fairy costume and comes across as someone no one can take seriously). But the story begins to get darker, with the various men in the story becoming too immersed in their alter-egos. Without giving away too much of the plot, I will just say that foam swords start getting replaced with the real kind.

The movie was made for $500 000, and for that money it is well-done. There are some good visuals here, much of which takes place in the woods and at night, but at other times we get a lot of close-ups of characters talking to each other.

The performance of Ricky Mabe as Erik is good, as he effectively comes across as a guy who really detests having to go through all this weird role-playing just to get his girl back. But Kaniehtiio Horn’s portrayal as Lyn was not as good – I was just left confused about what her motivation is, why is she here, or what is going on through her head. Little effort seems to have done in fleshing out any of the women characters, with most of the attention on the men.

The film has received mixed reviews, and I am of a mixed mind too – parts of its I liked, at other times I was bored (and a little confused). For those interested in medieval movies, the film doesn’t really do any favours for the image of role-playing or SCA crowd, and I think much of their potential audience will be turned off by that. But if you like movies that are generally dark in tone, don’t give you a formulaic ending, or have people shouting pseudo-medieval insults and frequent references to Ragnarök, you might enjoy The Wild Hunt.

Here are other reviews of the film:

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