Friday, November 18, 2011

REVIEW: The Wild Hunt (2009)

Setting a boring story about a boring romance inside a giant LARP game doesn’t make it any less boring. Despite the intriguing concept, I just couldn’t get involved in the core storyline of The Wild Hunt, and by the time things picked up in the last act it was too late. I was so uninterested in the characters that by then that even transitioning from fake violence with foam swords to real head-crushing couldn’t make me care.

The movie opens with Erik (Ricky Mabe) being sad about his girlfriend Lyn (Tiio Horn), who sort-of breaks up with him and then promptly runs off to the woods to LARP and play courtesean to a “barbarian lord.” Why do we care? That’s a good question - one that I never figured out. As far as I can tell, it’s because we’re supposed to relate to how moody and whiny they are and how pensive poor Erik looks as he watches traffic go by. When he heads into the woods to retrieve her, he’s sucked into the game and forced into the middle of the conflict between several warring factions, including the Nordic warriors led by his brother, Bjorn (Mark Krupa).

It’s a well-constructed film, even if it lends a bit more drama to the LARPers at times than is necessary. It’s hard to discern whether it’s poking fun at the game or taking it seriously, and this makes for a few wild shifts in tone. But despite the interesting ancillary characters, the plot is hard to take seriously when it doesn’t seem like it takes itself seriously for most of the film.

I can understand why this has gotten some attention - it’s generally well acted and takes some turns that are somewhat predictable but still have enough spin to make them interesting. It’s just a shame that there’s no backbone to the plot. Consistency isn’t necessarily key in filmmaking, but if you’re messing around with such drastic tonal shifts, you’d better make sure you’re doing it deliberately, or else you’re preventing your audience from investing anything in your story. I’d recommend the far more interesting documentary Darkon if you’re intrigued by the LARPing and want characters who are more fully drawn (since they’re real).

3.5 / 10 = Skip it

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