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Cinequest Review: ‘Hunting Lands’

In Culture
SILENT TYPE: There isn't much dialogue in 'Hunting Lands.' But the film is riveting.

SILENT TYPE: There isn't much dialogue in 'Hunting Lands.' But the film is riveting.

Set in the woods during a cold, Michigan winter, Frank Olsen (Marshall Cook) has started a new life, eschewing society in favor of a solitary existence. But that all comes crashing down while he is out hunting one day and sees a mysterious man dumping a body in the forest. It turns out this body isn’t quite cold yet. Upon further investigation, Frank discovers a woman fighting for her life. He picks up the unconscious woman and brings her back to his cabin.

The film quickly turns into a game of stalking, as Frank begins tailing the mysterious man (Joe Raffa) all over a small Michigan town, trying to discover who he is and why he nearly killed this woman. He keeps a close eye on the man and by the end of the day, they meet inside of a bar. In an awkward conversation that quickly escalates, the two stand outside the bar smoking cigarettes as Frank invites the stranger to come out and hunt in his land.

Dialogue is minimal in the film. Most of the story is told through the character’s expressions and the situations they find themselves in. It is a credit to the cast and direction that the story is easy to keep up with and remains riveting, even without much in the way of a script.

Cook’s portrayal of Frank is masterful. For the duration of the film, the viewer is left in a state of suspense. Driving around town in his green pick up truck, pulling out a pistol every now and then, we wonder whether Chekhov’s rule about guns will hold true here.

As for the mystery man, Lance Bennett: he’s not so easy to figure either. Over the course of the film, we watch him go through a rollercoaster of emotions. He has a short temper, but in minutes goes back to his normal self. Lance goes through an odd amount of activities over the course of the day, as Frank follows right behind him. He follows so closely that it’s almost unrealistic for Lance to not once notice him and his pickup truck.

The cold, snowy weather gives off the right winter setting. The streets seem empty, giving all focus to the two characters during the different scenes. The day also seems to fly by, in a short span of time everything turns pitch black.

With a mix of drama, thrill, and suspense one is still left with questions at the end. (JR)

Hunting Lands

Sat, Mar 3, 5:50pm, RWC | Mon, Mar 5, 6:15pm, RWC | Wed, Mar 7, 5:00pm, CAL | Sat, Mar 10, 7:35pm, 3B


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