Starting with Alma. Yes, the letter at the beginning of the film states it right out, but it’s a long letter, and my attention was placed on the content of the letter and not the name of the character it’s referring to. When we’re introduced to the sister, I’m not exactly sure which is Alma, because neither name is mentioned and I’m not necessarily looking for an Alma to begin with.
Wesley’s introduction comes when you hear his inner thoughts as he’s surveying the cabin he hasn’t visited in a long time. The vampire connection doesn’t truly click in until closer to the end. My understanding of the story through most of it was about two sisters fighting over the affections of an eccentric, odd man, and Alma’s issues are there to complicate her story. Vampire is far from my mind at this point.
I also need to mention Wesley’s dialogue throughout the film. He’s presented as a sophisticated man because he’s a man of the world and uses very big words. The combination of the two just doesn’t work, and his dialogue not only feels scripted, but seemingly posed a challenge for actor Ben Hall not only to memorize but feel natural to the character.
“Watching this film brought me back to my childhood…”
I’m being overly harsh with Climate of the Hunter because it was frustrating to watch. I had to work hard to follow the story and figure out what was really happening between the characters and I find myself replaying various scenes to see what I missed. Thrillers work because the audience has to figure out the mystery along the way. But as a filmmaker, you have to manage how much the viewer needs to work. Some facts need to be more obvious and while others can be more subtle. The moment we become lost from your story that is the moment we tune out, and in a theater setting, there’s no rewinding.
The one thing that I loved about Climate of the Hunter was its visual style. No, it doesn’t have the clean, crisp images you get from a high priced studio visuals, but cinematographer Samuel Calvin clearly worked hard to make visually compelling images and shot compositions with the low budget he was given. The conversation between Wesley and Alma’s daughter Rose (Danielle Evon Ploeger) was shot almost entirely in the dark, but their silhouettes are brilliantly lit along with their wine glasses.
Watching this film brought me back to my childhood when I was bored at home on the weekend and the only thing on television was these b-movie horror films…suitable for tv. Like those films, Climate of the Hunter is a throwback to that time with its postage-stamp aspect frame ratio, the fall color palette, and boy, those costumes.
If you’re nostalgic for these old-time thrillers, Climate of the Hunter will work for you, but I’m just not that person.
"…comes to 'cock block' his father and bringing up a few of his father's faults..."