[Review] “Night of the Hunted”: A Gripping Tale of a Woman hiding from a Deranged Gunman

There really have not been many horror movies about deranged gunmen released over the years, and Night of the Hunted might just be one of the best sniper-themed horror pictures to have graced our screens in quite some time. Director Franck Khalfoun previously helmed notable films such as P2 and the remake of Maniac, making him someone who clearly knows how to handle stories about psychotic killers. The screenplay was provided by Khalfoun alongside Glen Freyer, while Alexandre Aja, who you may know as the director of Switchblade Romance and the remake of The Hills Have Eyes, served as one of the producers. You might also be aware that Night of the Hunted serves as a loose remake of a Spanish film called Night of the Rat, which you should certainly track down if you have not done so already.

Camille Rowe stars as Alice, a marketing executive for a pharmaceutical company. Alice is also married, but it is soon revealed that she is having an affair with a man named John (Jeremy Scippio). She naturally does not want her husband to learn about her affair, although she also does not seem to particularly care for either of the two men with whom she is having relationships with. It becomes clear that Alice’s life is not particularly happy or celebratory, which largely comes down to the fact that she is unable to bear children. After stopping at an isolated gas station with John in the middle of the night, Alice becomes the target of a deranged marksman, who will stop at nothing before he can put a bullet between her eyes. She also witnesses John being mercilessly shot dead, and she is forced to hide inside the abandoned store at the gas station before becoming the next victim.

The vast majority of Night of the Hunted takes place within the gas station’s store. Khalfoun made the most of the limited location, with Alice exploring every inch of the derelict building as she frantically searches for a way out. And the single location also amplifies the tension, as you will start to feel claustrophobic as Alice starts to feel increasingly confined within the premises. At the same time, the use of music was largely kept to a minimum, as it would have distracted from the realism of the situation which Alice finds herself in. And while the overall body count was relatively low, the few kills which were on display were satisfyingly visceral and incredibly disturbing. The villain clearly does not discriminate between his targets, and seeing a frail and elderly woman being brutally gunned down will no doubt be a traumatic experience for viewers.

But it should also be said that Night of the Hunted also contains its fair share of tedious moments. The fact that it occurs mainly in one location meant that the plot often had nowhere to go. There were long sections where very little happened, and viewers will certainly find their interest waning at times. It was certainly engaging to see Alice frantically searching for medical supplies to treat her wounds after she gets injured. But watching her hiding under a shelf while trying to devise an escape plan for several minutes was far less captivating. At times, you really will wish that other places were showcased so that more could happen.

As the night wears on, Alice soon resorts to more drastic measures in order to stay alive, and seeing her tremendous efforts will no doubt leave you wondering how far you would go if you were in her situation. Things become even more complicated when a little girl arrives at the gas station, resulting in Alice being forced to place her own life in danger on multiple occasions to protect the life of the girl. The writers clearly wanted Alice’s plight to be a harrowing ordeal, and you certainly will not be forgetting her ordeal in a hurry. The sheer desperation which Alice experiences throughout the course of the night was elevated by Rowe’s performance. And you really will start to feel the despair which Alice experiences as she attempts to stay out of the gunman’s sights. Rowe brilliantly conveyed Alice’s transformation from a formally miserable and dispassionate businesswoman into someone who will do whatever it takes to save her own life and that of the girl who was unexpectedly thrust into her care. Night of the Hunted largely works as a character study, since Alice largely becomes a different person towards the end.

And the film’s villain proved to be unforgettable in his own unique way. In order to amplify his mysterious nature, the crazed sniper’s face was not shown, and his name was not revealed. But he was still given enough of a personality to stand out from the countless other horror movie villains who have been plastered across our screens in recent years. This is clearly a character who feels like he has been abandoned by society, making him both loathsome and sympathetic at the same time. At one point, the gunman sadly reminisces about how he struggled to insert himself back into civilian life after his military service in Afghanistan. And hearing this will no doubt leave you feeling resourceful towards all the veterans who were neglected once they returned home. But hearing him rambling about how he thinks violence will solve his problems will remind you that he is clearly a maniac who needs to be stopped. He evidently feels that his hideous actions are morally justified, making him a truly terrifying villain who genuinely believes that he is acting on behalf of a just cause.

Night of the Hunted is a film which dares to ask how far a person would be willing to go if they find themselves trapped in an increasingly desperate situation. While it also explores how twisted views on morality can cause people to commit heinous acts which they believe to be morally justified. This is a film which will certainly leave you wondering about the concept of morality in a way in which few other movies can. Although you might not be entirely comfortable with some of the deliberately difficult questions it raises. And the unyielding feeling of tension which the film creates as Alice hides from the gunman was undeniably palpable, making Night of the Hunted an unforgettable viewing experience which will haunt viewers for years to come. Needless to say, after watching Night of the Hunted, you will think twice before stopping at an isolated gas station in the middle of the night.

Four out of five stars.

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