Released on February 7th 2017, Uncork’d Entertainment presents Hunting Grounds. Written & directed by John Portanova it won the Best Sci-Fi Horror Film at the Toronto Independent Film Festival in 2015.
Father & son, Roger (Jason Vail) & Michael (Miles Joris-Peyrafitte) arrive at an isolated family cabin deep in the woods. The pair have lost their home following the death of Michael’s mother & Roger’s wife.
Relations are strained between the two, Michael wants to do right by his Dad but is struggling to connect with him. This is made all the worse by the cabin being a dump & the arrival of Roger’s friends Sergio (David Saucedo) & Will (D’Angelo Midili).
Will is a nice guy who is worried about Michael & wants to help give him a better life but Sergio is an obnoxious bully. He constantly berates Michael for not being a ‘real’ man & almost comes to blows with Will on several occasions.
After a night of drinking, the four men go out hunting the next day where Sergio & Roger try to force Michael to shoot a deer. After he misses (seemingly on purpose) Sergio runs into the woods alone to kill the deer where he sees something that couldn’t possibly exist.
He sees a Sasquatch but it disappears before the rest (and us) can see anything. Later that night when camping down the group get attacked by a group of Sasquatches & Roger is taken away. The other three escape back to the cabin where tensions run high & the creatures begin their assault.
Hunting Grounds sounds great, it really does but unfortunately it has some glaring issues. For starters, the film is just so boring.
It takes an actual age to get anywhere. This isn’t a complaint regarding time spent developing characters, that would be perfectly fine if most of them weren’t so boring. Roger just comes across like an absolute dick up until the end of the movie, Michael is annoyingly whiny, Sergio lacks originality & Will is wasted. You won’t really care what happens to any of them.
It’s not that they are badly acted, there are few complaints in that regard. Characters are believable (well, except one) & they react accordingly to what they are facing. Only the likes of Sergio are one-dimensional & he behaves like an absolute idiot at times.
The worst thing about Hunting Grounds though are the Sasquatches. They are kept out of sight for most of the run-time and for a good reason. They look terrible. They don’t look intimating even when they are tearing arms off or crushing heads. Clearly just a person in a suit, they don’t even have an imposing height.
The finale can’t come soon enough & it is as disappointing as the rest of the movie. Sasquatches just don’t seem to translate well to the horror screen.