Starring: Camille Rowe and Stasa Stanic
Directed by: Franck Kahlfoun
Running Time: 95 minutes
Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
As the credits for “Night of the Hunted” began to roll, I wondered about all my unanswered questions. I had plenty during the 95-minute cat and mouse game. In “Night of the Hunted,” Alice (Camille Rowe) spends a hellacious night over walkie-talkie with a Sniper (Stasa Stanic) at a remote gas station. Is it just bad luck? Is Alice being targeted? Is God punishing her for an unknown crime? Who is the Sniper? There are no answers, but maybe that’s the point.
Before being thrown into the mayhem, we meet Alice, who runs social media for a pharmaceutical giant, in a hotel room that she’s sharing with a male colleague. We wouldn’t think anything of it if she didn’t abruptly stop talking to her husband before her colleague enters the room. Are they lovers? The duo, who appear to have unsettled business, are on their way out of the room after a business convention. The pair stop at a 24-hour gas station for menial supplies and a tank fill-up. A nearby billboard says “GODISNOWHERE,” which feels ominous no matter how you view it, whether it’s “God is now here” or “God is nowhere.” Alice, noticing nothing at first, begins to realize no one is working in the store. As soon as she looks for an employee, she sees blood splattered on the wall behind the cash register, but the realization intertwines with a sniper bullet gashing her arm. Her colleague rushes in, only to be gunned down in front of her.
The back and forth between Alice and her would-be killer fill the rest of the film as passers in the night stop at the gas station to either meet their untimely end or fill their tank before going about their life. You could honestly comment on why certain people were killed and why others weren’t, more than they noticed the carnage or were oblivious to it. I digress though, Alice and the Sniper prod each other, trade insults, and attempt sympathetic comments about their lives. The more we learn about both, the more we wonder whether either is truly telling the truth. Alice has reason to make things up, she’s fighting for her life. The Sniper has reason to make things up, he’s a sociopath. This leads to Alice and the Sniper assuming things about each other, seemingly right, but also seemingly false.
My overarching belief is that “Night of the Hunted” is a commentary on 21st century discourse. We believe things about each other simply because we begin to attach others to different tribes. We pick at each other over perceived stereotypes and use those same beliefs to find reasons to hate. We also look to make the other party feel guilty for their own presumptions as we make our own. The Sniper drives a lot of that narrative, not only because he’s the killer, but because he seems to relay his own philosophy of being anti-vax, anti-government, anti-woke, etc. It’s a bit on the nose, but like I said, we’re never led to believe that either Alice or the Sniper is 100% true. Are they both mischaracterizing each other for their own goals or are they hitting each other like nails on the head?
A lot of people are going to be disappointed by the ending because of the lack of answers. Personally, it feels to match the verbal jarring and bloodletting throughout the film. Regardless of how you feel as the credits arrive, “Night of the Hunted” is a violent, tense, entertaining flick that will twist your stomach up in knots.