It’s 1945, the world is at war, and a plane carrying a troop of US soldiers crash lands in a forest in Nazi Germany, 80 miles south of Stuttgart. With no communication coming from the men, a separate squad is sent into the forest to retrieve the team.
Upon entering the wooded area, the squad come across a number of German soldiers strung up from the trees. It is unclear what happened to them, but signs suggest they may have been killed by one of their own.
As the squad delve deeper into the forest, tensions begin to mount and loyalties are tested. But the squad soon discover this isn’t the worst of their problems, as something is lurking close by and they may not get out of the forest alive.
The above is the premise for new supernatural horror movie, WarHunt. The film – directed by Mauro Borrelli – stars Mickey Rourke, Robert Knepper, and Jackson Rathbone, and is currently available to rent or buy on digital home video in the UK.
WarHunt is a low-budget picture, steeped in war time imagery, and with mild shades of Predator (1987) about it. It is the sort of film you’ll be convinced you’ve seen many times before, possibly even something you fished out of the bargain bin of Blockbuster during the early ‘00s.
The truth is, you probably have seen this movie before in some shape or form, as it is a film that travels along well-worn ground. The story isn’t particularly original, the dialogue is filled with clichés, and it borrows a number of tropes from other films.
Yet WarHunt is a frightfully good picture. It provides a decent dollop of action, a far bit of grit, and some haunting imagery, and does it all without wearing out its welcome.
Watching WarHunt won’t change your life, but it will provide you with 90(ish)-minutes of entertainment. It is a movie that is best viewed with a beer in hand, a takeaway on your lap, and no major expectations.
From the moment it begins, WarHunt knows exactly what it wants to be – a dark, supernatural-infused World War II story, that tries its best with limited funds. In fact, with one exception, which I’ll come to in a moment, the film spreads its budget quite evenly throughout the picture, to ensure the right money is spent in the right areas.
It is easy to see that director Mauro Borrelli is invested in making this movie work. He believes in the story and knows what is needed to sell the horror elements of the picture, and gets to work on delivering them.
What the film lacks in cash, it makes up for in commitment and imagination. It is B-movie stuff, and this is never in question, but look beyond its rough edges, and there’s someone working hard behind the scenes to bring this all together.
The only major misstep in the film is the casting of Mickey Rourke as a cigar-chompin’, eye-patch wearing, war hero, who appears in the movie (rather infrequently) to take on the role of a senior officer. Every time Rourke appears on screen, it is as if he has been airlifted in from a completely different movie, possibly that awful Nick Fury film from the late ‘90s (remember that?), and all he does is cause distraction.
I can only imagine Rourke was cast so the film could have a recognisable face on the poster, which in turn would help sell the movie. That may have been an important choice for helping the film get distribution and get noticed etc, but it wasn’t the greatest choice for the film itself.
Rourke sticks out like a sore thumb. I’m not entirely sure what movie he believes he is in, but it’s not quite the one everyone else is involved with, and his every scene seems to hold the film back a touch.
I can’t help but feel that had money not been spent on securing this actor, then it could have been spent elsewhere. This in turn could have given director Borrelli the opportunity to spend the cash on set, so he could delve deeper into the horror elements he clearly quite likes.
But choices were made, and nothing can change that, so it is a case of taking the rough with the smooth. The important thing is, despite Rourke’s prominent position on the poster, his scenes are few and far between, meaning significant chunks of the film can move forward without him.
The other good thing is this movie demonstrates time-and-time again the best bits of the film largely have nothing to do with star casting – they can be found in the imagery and the aesthetic. There are some great shots in this movie, and whether it is the sight of a creepy, yet dream-like windmill hidden amongst the trees, or a rather unsettling meal amongst campmates, these little moments are what remain in the mind once the film comes to an end.
It is small touches here and there which work best for WarHunt, and these little details and ideas are what shine through the most. Once again, this is a B-movie, but it is a B-movie doing its best to elevate itself.
WarHunt is not a movie looking to be nominated for an Oscar, nor would it win one, but it is an enjoyable romp nonetheless. So long as you can look past its limitations, you will see a well-crafted horror film, that is doing what it can with the resources available.
The movie won’t be for everyone, but I expect this film will find a cult following. If you like war pictures, and you’re up for a bit of horror, then this one is sure to hold your attention.
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