The Wild Hunt on DVD

Tuesday, 11 October 2011 05:07

‘Silly games always end in tears’ goes the saying, and “The Wild Hunt” confirms it with shocking effect. Erik (Ricky Mabe – “Zack and Miri Make a Porno”) loses his girlfriend to a bunch of live-action role-players. Desperate to get her back, he reluctantly ventures into the game on the eve of the annually-celebrated battle of Ragnarok. Passions are high, drink is flowing and the players will not let anything get in the way of their make-believe war.

Ex-girlfriend Lyn - or to use her gamer title ‘Princess Evlynia’ (Kaniehtiio Horn – “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” and forthcoming release “Immortals”) - becomes the ‘stag’ in the game, a god-like character who is supposed to lead the fearsome Celtic barbarians into battle against the other factions. When Erik turns up to woo her back, he selfishly disrupts the rhythm and course of the battle and sets in motion a tragic course of events. As the film’s ominous tagline foretells, no matter what happens the Wild Hunt ‘cannot be stopped’.

The Wild Hunt on DVDOther races in the game include the chest-beating Nordic Vikings led by Erik’s super-enthusiastic brother Bjorn (co-writer Mark Antony Krupa – “The Sum of All Fears”), the mainly female elves and a bunch of amusingly egotistical knights led by a supremely cocky King Argyle (Nicolas Wright). The feral Celts are ruled by the mighty Shaman Murtagh (Trevor Hayes – “I’m Not There”), a character not to be trifled with, and whose real-life alter-ego is equally determined not to let Lyn escape his clutches.

Though not shot as a mock-documentary, this award-winning Canadian movie has a very real feel to it, something that is critical to the effectiveness of the drama that unfolds. Director Alexandre Franchi cleverly segues between imagined, fantastical scenes in the game and real-life role-playing action of the gamers clattering about in their make-shift costumes, wielding spongy weaponry. As the story progresses, the line between the two worlds becomes increasingly blurred for all concerned.

The movie is actually quite hard to classify, as it encompasses quite a lot of humour, with romance, drama and horror thrown into the mix. From a comedy perspective, the film encourages not only derision at the geekiness of the role-playing, but also a grudging respect. Most of the costumes the players have created are somewhere between average to bordering on fantasy-movie standard, with a few notable and intentionally laughable exceptions. One of the two in-game referees is dressed shambolically as a fairy or sprite, and no amount of hyperactive flitting about can shake the impression that he is simply a pathetic man in spandex with plastic wings on his back. He has his work cut out trying to ensure that the unruly factions stick to the rules of the game.

Most of the players embrace the action with such enthusiasm and fervour that they suck you into their world. Chief amongst these is Bjorn, who appears to think he is Thor or at least doing Thor’s work, seeking out the mighty hammer Mjolnir. Bjorn is the diametric opposite of Erik, though as the film develops their differences narrow markedly. Their father is very sick, and Erik has been caring for him at home whilst Bjorn fled the nest, unable to deal with the situation. Burying himself in the game becomes a way of escaping having to face up to his responsibilities.

Those viewers expecting a big-budget fantasy extravaganza should definitely look elsewhere. At its heart this is a terrifying and moving film about young adults losing touch with reality. On a daily basis, stories in the news appear to indicate that the younger generations care less and less about society and are spiralling out of control, so the theme running through this feature certainly touches a nerve. Wins in the Slamdance Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival were well deserved.

The special features on this release include:

  • Behind the Scenes (roughly 15 mini-promo videos, some of which are funny, some are random and a few are both funny and very random!)
  • Image Gallery
  • Storyboards
  • Trailer
  • Textless Titles (the opening titles without music or titles)

“The Wild Hunt” (2009) is out now, courtesy of Network Releasing. The main feature has a running time of 92 minutes approx, carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £15.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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