The Movie Waffler New to VOD - HUNT HER KILL HER | The Movie Waffler


night shift janitor fights for her life when masked raiders break into her place of employment.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Greg Swinson, Ryan Thiessen

Starring: Natalie Terrazzino, JC Oakley III, Trevor Tucker, Dave Holt, Hunter Tinney, Reece Griffin, Philip Zimny

Hunt Her Kill Her poster

The clever thing about Die Hard is how it takes the simple premise of your average slasher movie and flips it on its head. In a slasher movie you traditionally get a sole antagonist who spends the running time offing multiple protagonists until the showdown with the final girl. Die Hard conversely gives us a lone hero and multiple villains, all of whom are offed one by one until a standoff with the lead bad guy.

Greg Swinson and Ryan Thiessen's Hunt Her Kill Her explicitly acknowledges the influence of Die Hard. There's a scene in which a message is attached to a corpse, the heroine ends up clad in a bloodied sleeveless vest, and at one point she evens emulates Bruce Willis by speaking the words "Think, think." But the film also acknowledges Die Hard's debt to the slasher movie. What we get here is essentially a Die Hard clone with a slasher movie's masked villains and final girl, though in this case she's the only girl.

Hunt Her Kill Her review

Financially troubled after ending a relationship with her abusive partner Danny (JC Oakley III), young mother Karen (Natalie Terrazzino) takes a job as the night shift janitor at a furniture factory. As soon as she sets foot in her new place of employment Karen experiences casual misogyny from the elderly male day shift janitor who shows her around the factory and issues instructions, all while rolling his eyes in a manner that silently suggests he's thinking "Women!" When the old duffer gets a stain on his prized bowling shirt, he's impressed when Karen removes it using a can of soda, an early indication of the resourcefulness and quick thinking she will be forced to rely upon later.

Before the factory closes up for the night Karen experiences some not so casual misogyny when she's approached in a threatening manner by a pair of Danny's friends in the bathroom. Once the factory locks its doors she's left alone for the night and it seems her biggest worry is the babysitter she left in charge of her young daughter Lily (Olivia Graves). Or so she thinks. Karen begins to hear noises coming from the darkened corners of the facility. They're just...uh, factory noises, right? Wrong. Suddenly Karen realises a group of masked men have made their way in and are explicitly there to murder her.

Hunt Her Kill Her review

Hunt Her Kill Her is the very definition of tight, economical, low-budget genre filmmaking. There isn't an ounce of fat on its bones and it gets right into the meat of its promised scenario in the first 20 minutes. It's often said the greatest asset a low budget filmmaker can have is access to a single location in which the entire story can play out. That's exactly what we get here as the film never leaves the factory. Swinson and Thiessen understand the importance of geography in a movie like this, and they make sure to map out the layout of the factory in those early scenes. As Karen is being shown around we get to familiarise ourselves with what will become a battleground later in her shift.

A maze of machinery and pallets, the factory is the perfect setting for a game of cat and mouse. Speaking of cats and mice, Hunt Her Kill Her bears the influence of classic cartoons, with Karen becoming a resourceful Roadrunner to the masked Wile E. Coyotes. While the film plays its thrills straight, there's an element of slapstick in how the villains' male arrogance often leads to their downfall, constantly running into the equivalent of fake tunnels painted on walls by Karen.

Hunt Her Kill Her review

Karen is the best type of horror heroine, one who begins the movie as a meek mouse and ends it as a roaring lioness. Every time she takes down one of her burly male opponents it's done in a feasible manner as she relies on her wits and intelligence rather than brute strength, and sometimes she relies on a combination of luck and her opponents' under-estimation of her will to survive. Like Darth Vader, the villains are voiced by different actors than they're played by, which means we get a combination of imposing physiques and sinister deep voices, both of which serve to highlight Karen's feminine vulnerability.

Movies of this nature, with a simple premise and a single location, too often run out of ideas early on and end up padding the narrative with extraneous and unwanted material. Hunt Her Kill Her sticks solely to the premise, never pausing to fill in any unnecessary backstory. All we need to know is that a group of men want to kill Karen, and that she wants to survive the night and make it back to her daughter. Practically a silent movie for most of its running time, Hunt Her Kill Her is a minor masterclass in visual storytelling, with Swinson and Thiessen mining tension from every nook and cranny of their confined setting. There's some very clever filmmaking on display here, and I was particularly impressed at how Swinson and Thiessen often switch the POV from predator to prey within a single camera move rather than a cut. Perhaps Swinson and Thiessen benefit from being forced to be creative with their restrictive budget, but if was the head of Blumhouse I'd be throwing money at these guys to see what they might come up with next.

Hunt Her Kill Her
 is on UK/ROI VOD now.

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