It is refreshing to see a short film actually shot on film. Nowadays it feels like such an endeavor is a lost art, and for many understandable reasons, including budget. In the case of “The Hunter,” we’re talking not just film, but 35mm black and white film. It could be a recipe for high-budget disaster, but instead “The Hunter” is a gorgeous short film, with imagery that, in some cases, outshines the plot. You may not walk away remembering certain lines, but you will remember the composition of certain shots.
Based on a short story by Tobias Wolff, “The Hunter” involves three friends heading into the snowy wilderness for a bit of hunting and friendly community. Kenny, played by filmmaker Larry Fessenden, is a bit of a prick, constantly jibing on Tub, the overweight, highly sensitive one of the group. Frank is the mediator of the group, sensitive to Tub but also receptive to Kenny’s blustery friendship. As the hunt goes on, the dynamic of insults and friendly joking turns towards cruel, and friends become less interested in each others well-being.
Director Ben Gray’s short film is brilliantly acted (in particular Fessenden’s Kenny is the type of friend I’ve had in my life, and if I remember correctly I probably beat the s**t out of him once or twice), and as mentioned earlier, is gorgeous to see. My criticism is more towards the plot elements of the hunt itself, as our hunters never seem to be hunting much of anything, or heading towards any specific goal, despite trudging through fields of snow with a very large Tub whining along. When all is said and done, you wonder why they went hunting at all? Still, “The Hunter” overcomes these shortcomings as a whole, and is exactly the type of short film endeavor more filmmakers should attempt while progressing with their craft.