Short films tend to face the difficulty of saying a lot with a little. That challenge does not phase director Shannon Kohli. At less than 10 minutes, her Hunting Season manages to incorporate thriller, fantasy and horror elements, as well as make a semblance of a statement about humanity’s inherent propensity to assault something it doesn’t understand. Not bad for a clearly micro-budget effort, whose earnestness outweighs its weaknesses.
As radio reports of bear attacks escalate into news about something “they’re calling a beast,” Callie (Hannah Levien, also the writer) works the graveyard shift at a remote Hicksville gas station. Lights buzz and flicker, the ominous score builds up, while characters pull up to have their tanks filled – including a bunch of young douchebag hunters and a local cop with a crossbow – all on the prowl for the beast. When Callie actually encounters the creature, it happens during an intimate, fog-enveloped moment.
“As radio reports of bear attacks escalate into news about something ‘they’re calling a beast’…”
Sure, there’s an odd side-track of Callie flirting with one of the doofuses, a 2-minute waste of an already-short narrative. If Kohli is saying something there, or merely alluding to a larger story, it eludes me. Her film also feels unfinished; despite the mix of genres, another layer of depth would’ve made it feel more fleshed out. The final encounter will either enthrall or amuse you, depending on your levels of cynicism.
However, the director displays a knack for suspense and a wild imagination. Hunting Season shows that, with a larger budget and an expanded narrative, Kohli could potentially make an engrossing, fable-like, allegorical parable/horror film about magical creatures and mean, small-town hicks. I’d watch that, wouldn’t you?
Hunting Season (2019) Directed by Shannon Kohli. Written by Hannah Levien. Starring Hannah Levien, Luke Camilleri, Howard Siegel, Serge Jaswal, Colby Hamilton.
6 out of 10