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Review: Night of the Hunted. Morality wrapped in murder

  • Release year: 2023
  • Director: Franck Khalfoun.
  • Producers: Alexandre Aja, Alix Taylor, Noëmie Devide and Morris Ruskin.
  • Screenplay by: Glen Freyer and Franck Khalfoun.
  • Cinematographer: Steeven Petitteville.
  • Music by: Mathieu Carratier.

Synopsis: A woman fights for her life at a gas station after getting shot by a sniper who is trying to kill her.

Shotgun Commentary: A battle for survival turns into a battle of principles out of nowhere. You will sweat, probably get mad, and eventually become numb. All in all, not a bad experience.

A scared blond woman (Alice) asking for help in a walkie.
Fig. 1. Alice (Camille Rowe) asking for help in a walkie.
Source: Night of the Hunted (Franck Khalfoun, 2023).

Review

Night of the Hunted is a film about a lady in a gas station trying to avoid getting shot by a sniper. It delivers exactly what that prompt promises: tension, suffering, survival, violence and taunting. The fact that she is in such a limited space works both for and against the film though.

A car arriving to a gas station in the middle of the night. Scene from Night to be Hunted.
Fig. 2. Alice arriving at the gas station with her co-worker.
Source: Night of the Hunted (Franck Khalfoun, 2023).

On the one hand, it feels like an easier version of all the human-hunting films that have already been made, easier, that is, for the sniper and for the department of production design. It is not too outstanding or unique. Her survival feels like a long, hardcore episode of MacGyver instead of an original story.

On the other hand, it adds tension since her resources are scarce and the glass walls make her more exposed. As a result, it is an experience that every Home Alone or MacGyver fan will enjoy because, despite its repetitive nature, who doesn’t like survival DIY?

Battle of ideals?

In addition to the whole hunter-prey situation, the sniper, in the most foreseeable turn of events possible, is revealed as the person who is talking to Alice (Camille Rowe), the woman in the shop, through a walkie. The conversations held between them reveal the sniper to be a pro-gun, anti-vaccine, racist, sexist, conspiracist republican; and Alice to be a progressive but hypocritical woman who will do whatever it takes to survive.

Alice bandaging her wound. Scene from Night to be Hunted.
Fig. 3. Alice bandaging her shot wound to stop the bleeding.
Source: Night of the Hunted (Franck Khalfoun, 2023).

This is the way a lot of people around the world see the US population right now: divided in two extremes that are destined to never understand each other, leading to extreme situations like the one shown in the film. Violence brings violence and destroys the possibility of peace, which is why the end of the film is so meaningful and telling.

Although I did not expect, nor did I want, politics and the constant arguments about principles and beliefs that we are drilled with by the media (social and traditional) to also make its way inside the film that I am watching, the metaphor, or fictional case study morelike, is quite interesting. You need to watch the whole thing before being on board with it, but the closure is quite satisfying and telling. In this case, a good ending really does make the film.

Alice hiding behind an isle, waiting to attack the sniper when he arrives. Scene from Night to be Hunted.
Fig. 4. Alice waiting for the sniper to arrive to attack him.
Source: Night of the Hunted (Franck Khalfoun, 2023).

Again with the nonsense

Having said all this, complaining is the best so it is time to highlight the issues of the movie. To be fair, there is only one really bothersome issue. One so loud that will make you forget about anything else. I’m talking about the way they portray Alice as a clever and resourceful woman that, out of nowhere, makes the worst decisions ever, like stopping one of her escape plans for no reason, or trusting people without any assurance. It might be justified if you think about how she is in a very stressful situation and her mind is racing, filled with adrenaline, but it still feels quite wrong.

Advice to take from this movie:

  • When using a very sharp blade, be careful.
  • If you are going to do something and you don’t want a sniper to get you, move quickly and don’t hesitate.
  • If a bloodied lady yells at you to run, RUN.
Alice signaling from the station storefront to a little girl to get down in her car. Scene from Night to be Hunted.
Fig. 5. Alice signalling from the station storefront to the little girl to stay down.
Source: Night to be Hunted (Franck Khalfoun, 2023).

What’s your take? Did you like the whole moral aspect? Should Night of the Hunted just be an action film? Don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below or leave a message in my contact page! For more reviews and cinema-related articles check out the rest of my blog! 😀

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