The “Terrifier” franchise reminds us how much can be done with meager resources.
“Hunt Her Kill Her” offers an exclamation mark to that point. The no-budget thriller is set in a spacious, cluttered warehouse. One set. No frills. And, thankfully, tension that never lets up.
It’s a sly retort to anyone who thinks they lack the resource to make a bona fide horror movie. “Hunt Her Kill Her” directors Greg Swinson and Ryan Thiessan know better.
The film opens with a very unKaren-like character named Karen (Natalie Terrazzino) learning about her new nighttime gig. She’s a janitor in an expansive office building/warehouse, and she listens to a crusty advisor as he shows her the ropes.
She’ll be all alone, mop in hand, while a neighbor watches her young daughter.
We’re immediately invested in Karen’s situation. She’s a hard-working single mom doing what she must to provide for her daughter.
The film establishes this with admirable restraint, neither making her a Mary Sue nor a victim. She doesn’t have time for labels, just hard work.
Except she’s not alone on her first night on the job. Hardly.
Genre Studio Welcome Villain Films Lands Survival Thriller ‘Hunt Her, Kill Her’ (EXCLUSIVE) https://t.co/QDBcGN8fWO
— Variety (@Variety) January 26, 2023
“Hunt Her Kill Her” gets to the meat of the matter fast, and audiences may fear the film won’t be able to sustain its adrenaline rush of a plot once the intruders arrive.
That’s hardly the case.
This is lump-in-your-throat cinema, and Karen’s survival chances seem slender, at best.
She’s a resourceful Final Girl, though, and that’s where the film clicks. Terrazzino’s Karen refuses to give in. She’s handed plenty of natural resources. The warehouse teems with wooden planks, saws and other potentially deadly implements.
It’s her brain that may be her best weapon.
Just don’t expect her to pull a female Rambo routine along the way. She’s outmuscled by her opponents, and “Hunt Her Kill Her” knows any sense of realism would vanish if she found her inner warrior.
The screenplay works efficiently in the first act, but eventually it falls back on, “you better come out … we’re gonna cut ya … you’re only making things worse by running” rants.
The bigger story in play is similarly thin, but it’s just enough to hang the action on. And that’s all you need.
Swinson and Thiessan make the most of the setting and its limitations. We’re on the ground with Karen, running right behind her as she ducks in and out of the alleyways in search of an escape route. The camera work is inventive, revealing, and without it the film’s gimmick would crumble.
As resourceful as Karen proves, a few moves seem plucked from the “Die Hard” playbook. She’s not a grizzled Big Apple cop but a mom trying to live long enough to reunite with her daughter.
Still, those sequences can’t sever the bond between story and audience once the chase begins. Nothing could.
HiT or Miss: “Hunt Her Kill Her” is as blunt as its title, but it’s just as invigorating for B-movie lovers.
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