Hunter Hunter (2020) poster

Hunter Hunter (2020)


Canada. 2020.


Director/Screenplay – Shawn Linden, Producers – Neil Elman, Juliette Hagopian & Shawn Linden, Photography – Greg Nicod, Music – Kevon Cronin, Visual Effects – Darren Wall, Special Effects Supervisor – Jason Wilkins, Production Design – Chad Giesbrecht. Production Company – Particular Crowd/Marvista Entertainment/Juliette Inc. Productions.


Camille Sullivan (Anne Marsault), Summer H. Howell (Renee Mersault), Devon Sawa (Joseph Mersault), Nick Stahl (Lou), Gabriel Daniels (Officer Danny Barthes), Lauren Cochrane (Lucy)


Joseph Mersault lives in a cabin in the woods of Manitoba with his wife Anne and daughter Renee. He believes that a wolf has returned to the area and sets out on his own to hunt it. He comes across an area of the forest with several murdered bodies. Back at the cabin, Anne and Renee are spooked by the appearance of the wolf. Anne becomes concerned when Joseph fails to return from his expedition. The sheriff’s department are unable to help due to jurisdictional issues. Anne then finds Lou, a man wounded in the woods.

Hunter Hunter was the third film from Canadian director Shawn Linden. Linden had previously directed/written the horror film Nobody (2007) and the revenge thriller The Good Lie (2012). He had also written the script for Doomsday Prophecy (2011) and before that had worked in the industry as a set dresser.

You are immediately impressed with the way that Shawn Linden absorbs you into the backwoods lifestyle. He shows Devon Sawa and daughter Summer H. Howell out hunting, along with them preparing and skinning a killed animal. In these scenes, you are immersed in the detail of this world and feel like Linden is building on the skills he learned as a set dresser, a job that is based around providing small background details that affect a wider picture of the world we are in. The characters also have an unusual lifestyle and the script makes an interesting set of points about how such a world where one can live isolated in a cabin, away from amenities making a subsistence lifestyle off the land is an endangered one up against the modern world.

The film gains a great deal of effect once it gets to the meat of its drama when Devon Sawa goes out hunting, finds the clearing containing slaughtered bodies – and then fails to return. The bulk of the film then focuses on wife Camille Sullivan and Summer back in the cabin as they become concerned over the disappearance and then fear for themselves after an appearance of the wolf while they are down at the river.

Devon Sawa goes hunting in Hunter Hunter (2020)
Devon Sawa goes hunting a wolf
Daughter Summer H. Howell and mother Camille Sullivan in Hunter Hunter (2020)
(l to r) Daughter Summer H. Howell and mother Camille Sullivan defend the cabin

Other than this scene, the wolf is like the shark in Jaws (1975) and makes surprisingly few appearances throughout – seen either as a figure flitting through the trees or more so by everyone’s fear of its appearance. These scenes alternate between a B story as local law enforcement, native officer Gabriel Daniels and his colleague Lauren Cochrane, investigate what is going on. All in the cast give fine and convincing performances – I failed to realise that Devon Sawa, who I had previously known as a teen actor, was the father until the end credits.

The film also sits in an interestingly place of ambiguity where you are not quite sure what is happening – what exactly has happened to the missing Devon Sawa? Are we watching purely a survival thriller about people facing a wolf attacking in the woods? If so what killed the group of people in the clearing? At the point where Nick Stahl is found wounded and brought back to the cabin, I was even beginning to wonder if what we had was a Werewolf Film. It all comes together in a solid explanation at the end amid several unexpected twists and turns, before reaching a particularly grim and nasty final scene.

Trailer here

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