The Movie Waffler New Release Review - NIGHT OF THE HUNTED | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - NIGHT OF THE HUNTED

Night of the Hunted review
A woman is trapped in a gas station by an unseen sniper.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Franck Khalfoun

Starring: Camille Rowe, Monaia Abdelrahim, Aleksandar Popovic, J. John Bieler, Isaiah Reyes

Night of the Hunted poster

Godard's old adage that all you need to make a film is a girl and a gun is given a novel spin in director Franck Khalfoun's Night of the Hunted. The girl is front and centre here but the gun is never seen, as it belongs to a sniper causing mayhem from a safe distance.

Khalfoun's film is a remake of Night of the Rat, a Spanish language thriller from 2015. It stars the French-American model/actress Camille Rowe as Alice, a young woman who is conducting a secret affair with her co-worker John (Jeremy Scippio). After attending a convention together and enjoying some time in a motel room, the two set off in the middle of the night to get Alice to an early morning appointment at a fertility clinic arranged by her husband.

Night of the Hunted review

On the road John realises his gas tank is almost empty, though he swears he filled it just the previous night. Stopping off at a remote gas station, John discovers that his tank is leaking. Alice makes a more alarming discovery, finding the station empty but with a suspicious splash of blood behind the counter. As she quickly leaves the station she's shot in the upper arm as the place is riddled with bullets.

I haven't seen Night of the Rat but from what I've read, Khalfoun's remake differs in one key area. In the original the two lovers are trapped together in the station whereas Khalfoun kills off John immediately here, leaving his movie a one-woman show for most of the running time.

Night of the Hunted review

The sniper's presence is established visually through the giant billboard he appears to be shooting from behind (which not too subtly reads "God is nowhere") and aurally via a walkie talkie he uses to communicate with Alice.

The early scenes hold promise as Khalfoun drops us into a tense situation. Alice makes for a resourceful heroine as she uses the various props at her disposal to stay alive and outwit her anonymous attacker. Rowe, who is a dead ringer for a young Michelle Monaghan, gives an impressive performance in a role that has a bit more nuance than we usually find in movies of this ilk. Khalfoun could have easily given us a likeable protagonist that we can easily warm to, but along with co-writer Glen Freyer he adds shades to Alice's persona. We're forced to wonder if this is really just a case of Alice being in the wrong place at the wrong time or if this has all been staged, and at a certain point the idea that she may not be entirely innocent crosses our mind.

Night of the Hunted review

But things begin to fall apart once the sniper starts to open up, spewing out the usual litany of gripes held by a certain type of man who likes to blame society for all his problems. With Alice now posited as a feminist heroine battling a right-wing gun nut, the movie injects a culture war aspect that it doesn't seem qualified to tackle with any nuance. The action slows down as Alice spends an increasing amount of time arguing over the walkie talkie with her aggrieved assailant. There are so many opportunities for the sniper to take out Alice that it eventually gets to the point where the tension dissipates completely and the film has to resort to the cheap trick of putting a child in peril late on. Early on Alice manages to knock off the station's lights, but there's still enough light from the fridges for the sniper to clearly see her, and you have to assume he has some sort of a night vision scope anyway.

Reviews of Night of the Rat complained about its frustrating ending, an aspect that Khalfoun seems to have carried over here. For a film that sets up so many possibilities as to why Alice has found herself in this scenario, the ending here feels almost insulting to the viewer's investment over the previous 90 minutes.

Night of the Hunted
 is in UK cinemas and on Shudder from October 20th.

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