It’s a new year, and with that, the streaming service Shudder is dropping 11 new movies across 11 weeks. The first is Hunted, a wild take on Little Red Riding Hood directed and written by Vincent Paronnaud. The film has some stellar cinematography and imagery, but it doesn’t do anything new with the female revenge subgenre and pales in comparison to similar films like Revenge (2017) and The Nightingale (2019).
Eve (Lucie Debay) is a site manager who needs an escape from her overbearing boss, so she wanders into a seedy bar where she has to deal with an overly aggressive man who insists on buying her drink, most likely expecting sex in return. Eve shoots him down and is assisted by “the guy” (Arieh Worthalter), a misogynist who lures Eve into his car, and with the help of his accomplice (Ciaran O’Brien), kidnaps her. After an accident, Eve escapes into the woods and the rest of the film becomes a hunt and chase scenario.
The fairy tale concept works well. Fairy tales have always had a dark underbelly. Eve’s red winter coat aligns her even more with the Little Red Riding Hood character, but instead of being chased by a big bad wolf, she’s chased by two men. As the tag line of the film says, “The company of wolves is better than that of man.”
Debay gives a strong performance through and through. It’s a delight to see her channel her anger and become the hunter with the help of the woods. Worthalter makes for a good villain, a deplorable brute who gets off by watching sexist snuff films he recorded. The imagery and cinematography, including sweeping shots of the woods and close-ups of wolves and snakes, are another strength.
The film’s main issue is that it doesn’t do anything different with the female revenge subgenre and add to the conversation. We’ve seen this plot several times before, and while it’s always great to see women kicking ass against gross men, there’s nothing ground-breaking here. The idea of nature linking with female energy to topple a hostile man has also been done before, most recently in Coralie Fargeat’s brilliant Revenge. Just replace the desert with the forest in this case.
Watch the trailer for Hunted below:
Hunted is worth the watch, especially for Debay’s performance and the visuals, but by the end of the year, it’s not likely this film will really register.
Keep an eye out for some of the other films Shudder will be releasing early this year, namely After Midnight, Lucky, and the Dark and the Wicked.