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RUNNING TIME: 86 Minutes
- Film Festival Featurettes
- The Making of The Wild Hunt Featurettes
LARPing: Weekend fantasy role-playing where you finally get to be the hero of your own story.
The Wild Hunt: Finding out your own story isn’t a romantic comedy like you thought, but a psychological thriller where everyone wants to kill you.
Written by Mark Anthony Krupa and Alexandre Franchi. Directed by Alexandre Franchi. Acted by Ricky Mabe, Mark Anthony Krupa, Tiio Horn, Trevor Hayes, Kent McQuaid, Claudia Jurt and Nicolas Wright.
Erik (Mabe) and his girlfriend Lyn (Horn) are having problems: He’s living in a shitty apartment taking care of his father who is suffering from dementia and that depresses the hell out of his terminally aloof and mopey girlfriend, who just wants some space. Lyn decides the best way to get some of that space is to go on a weekend trip to a medieval live-action role playing event with a car full of dudes including not him. He can’t help but to follow her up to the woods in order to try and win her back, but his attempts to not play the game are met with some serious hostility and rage. As Erik quickly gets sucked into the conflict brewing between the Elves, Vikings and Celts (who have adopted Lyn as their Princess), he’ll realize that they might not be as willing to part with her as he thought. As the day deepens into night, the games become reality and Erik will realize that foam swords can be deadly in the wrong hands. Or even in the right ones. You’d be surprised how much it can hurt to take one of the corners in your eyehole.
Don’t watch the trailer for this movie if you can avoid it. It’s a great trailer but it advertises The Wild Hunt as much more of a horror-thriller than it really is. That’s not to say that there aren’t elements of horror throughout and that the film doesn’t thrill (it thrills like Landis did), but the movie is more of a slow burn, designed to keep you on edge until everything goes to hell in the jaw dropping final 20 minutes. Let the film wash over you instead of coming to it with preconceived notions about what it’s going to be, because if you’re expecting some sort of slasher film set in the world of LARPing then you might be pretty disappointed. The Wild Hunt is interested in much more than just a quick scare in an unexplored environment. It’s interested in questions of courage and mob mentality, while simultaneously exploring a lifestyle you might not know anything about.
I’ve known a few people who went out in the park and beat the shit out of each other with foam swords every weekend and they made it seem pretty cool, but I know how lame things like having an imagination and exploring your masculinity without being a douche is, so I always stayed away from all that happy horse shit. The Wild Hunt made me wish I’d rocked my codpiece and joined the fray because, yes, even though some of it looks and sounds extremely dorky it’s mostly in a good way. The kind of way where you find yourself surrounded by friends, speaking in your own language and not giving a shit about what outsiders might think. There’s a character in The Wild Hunt who has a smile on his face for the entire film because he’s having so goddamned much fun in his brand new suit of armor. And that’s when it hit me. I wanted to smile like that. I was smiling just watching these people trying to speak in Olde English and not break character. Fuck you, Wild Hunt, I just ordered a wizard’s robe and it’s all your fault. Lies. I already own one. I got married in it. That’s right, I had a Middle Earth themed wedding where we served Middle Eastern food and drank mead. How’s my cred now, bitches??
What makes me think that there is something a little wrong with me is that the LARPing in The Wild Hunt obviously doesn’t turn out very well, yet I’m still drawn to it’s mysterious charms. Once Erik shows up to the Montreal woods where the battle is taking place, he instantly has to deal with a tribe of Celt’s run by Shaman Murtagh, played with effortless creep by Trevor Hayes. Murtagh has his sights set on Princess Lyn (she makes out with him because she just needs some space, man), so when Erik shows up demanding to talk to the captured Lyn, Murtagh decides Erik isn’t going to have a fun weekend. As the evening progresses, Murtagh’s jealousy starts compounding itself into anger and then rage and then into a disconnect with reality, leading to a finale of unforgettable power. Even after all the horrible shit that goes down by the end, I still found myself Googling local LARPing grounds and looking forward to busting out my wizards robe and throwing down some lightning bolt, lightning bolt, lightning bolt, lightning bolt.
This movie was close to perfect for me except for two annoyances that kept this from achieving classic status. First, Erik and Lyn are pretty unlikable to start with. When Lyn (who’s reminiscent of the Kristen Stewart style of acting with figuring out 100 ways to emote through a pout) gets in the car and drives away from long term boyfriend Erik in the opening, one of the men in the car asks Lyn who Erik was and she says he’s just a friend (Youuu, you got what I neee-eeed. Sorry). And once she arrives at the site, she makes out with basically the first guy she talks to. Meanwhile, when Erik shows up, he refuses to put on any fantasy garb before going around the woods and looking for his lady. It’s like he’s determined to piss all over everyone else’s weekend because Little Miss Too Emo To Care left him. They both come across as really self absorbed pricks for the most part. I understand that they’re human and flawed and that makes for more interesting characters, but this leads directly into my second annoyance of the film.
HERE THERE BE SPOILERS FOR THE ENDING OF THE MOVIE……………
After Erik finally hooks up with Lyn, she gets all flirty with him again and starts fooling around with him. When Murtagh shows up, he’s (understandably) confused by what’s going on since she was all snuggly and tongue kissy with him like 20 minutes earlier. Erik starts shit talking and Lyn sits there laughing and going along with it so Murtagh leaves in a huff. Here’s where it gets weird: after Murtagh leaves he rallies his clan of Celt’s together to attack the Vikings (who Erik and Lyn are affiliated with since Erik’s older brother is the head Viking). All the Celt’s burn their wallets and personal effects and basically go native and attack the Vikings for really real. When the dust settles, Erik has been beaten to death. Lyn goes dead eyed, walks to a ledge and jumps off: killing herself Last of the Mohicans style. It’s an ending gorgeously realized in the filming and acting aspects, but there’s one problem: we don’t know shit about Lyn and Erik’s relationship prior to her leaving him in the first scene and nothing that happens between them subsequently lead me to believe that she would have killed herself over his death. It’s all very tragic and poetic and whatnot, but for a film that only runs for 86 minutes, it could have really used a few scenes in the beginning establishing their relationship so the ending could carry more weight. As it stands, you’re left admiring the courage of the ending and the beauty of how it all plays out, but emotionally you feel nothing since Lyn was making out with Murtagh a few hours earlier and couldn’t wait to distance herself from Erik. Maybe youngsters these days just FEEL things so much deeper than old fuckers like me do, but from Lyn’s character beats evident in the film I figured that after she saw Erik beaten to death she would just squirt a few and write a poem about loss or something. It’s a great ending, it’s just devoid of the emotional impact I think they were going for.
SPOILERS ARE NO MORE……………
All complaints aside, I loved this movie from beginning to end. It’s not perfect but it comes close. There’s a wealth of things to look for on repeat viewings and it also has some of the most fascinating supporting characters I’ve seen in a film in a long time. I’ve run out of room to get into Erik’s older brother Bjorn, who lives on the LARPing grounds; always in character as the King of the Vikings, afraid to come back home and help his little brother take care of their ailing father. He’s a fascinating character in a film populated by people who you can’t wait to get to know better.
The Wild Hunt made me smile greatly and often. It’s one to own and watch with friends on a cold night with nice glass of Scotch and a bong shaped like a Minotaur. If you don’t have that specific bong then improvise (and also shame on you). It’s a fun, fast paced ride that won’t allow you to be bored for a second, but it also will make you think about your life and the masks you wear every day to get by in the world. It’s rare that a movie this entertaining is also so thought provoking and worthy of discussion. Whether you’re an Elf or a Viking or a Celt, there’s something in this movie for everyone. Except ninja’s. There’s other parties for them.
All the featurettes are really short but they make the production of this film look to be the most fun possible to be had by anyone ever. It made me jealous and a little aroused, I’m not gonna lie.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars