WARHUNT, the horror of the world war seriously undermined by the budget
It’s hard, if not impossible, to go wrong by mixing Nazis and Zombies (even better, Nazi Zombies).
Alas, the co-writer/director of Mauro Borrelli’s WWII horror film, war hunt, dashed those expectations early on, instead going in a different, far less satisfying direction. It’s not out of habit of a good setup or premise (men on a mission, dropped behind enemy lines in Germany’s Black Forest), but as with everything in or out of film, it’s still about execution .
And with a budget somewhere between bass and mic, war hunt disappoints whenever the story turns in the general direction of a long set or action scene. Even the promise of viscera or gore repeatedly fails, a combination of said budget and a seeming lack of nerve on the part of Borrelli and co.
Despite an almost tiny budget, Warhunt certainly does not betray a lack of ambition. From the first moments, an army transport plane mingling with an unseen, possibly supernatural force, resulting in a crash somewhere in Germany, Borrelli wants to get big and expansive, but obviously can’t.
This plane, however, plays a pivotal role in Warhunt’s story: led by a Mickey Rourke who chews a cigar, wears an eyepatch, and carries a cane in cartoon mode as an officer with a name of family, “Johnson”, but no first name. first, a search and rescue team sets out to find the downed plane, any survivors (if any), and most importantly, the super secret contents of a suitcase that an occupant of said downed plane was bringing back to the Army HQ (or somewhere).
Johnson details the singular name of Walsh (Jackson Rathbone, The Last Airbender, The Twilight Saga), a scruffy special-ops guy with no wallet, to the team, presumably to ensure that the anonymous soldiers sent on a search-and-rescue mission get their hands on the contents of the suitcase and do something with them. Unsurprisingly, squad leader Sergeant Becker (Robert Knepper) initially rejects Walsh’s participation in the mission, but as Johnson outclasses him, he does what any non-commissioned officer in his position would do and s hire to avoid being court-martialed (or worse).
With the rescue mission set, the team ventures into seemingly unguarded enemy territory via a few inflatable boats, landing somewhere downriver without incident. Moments after landing, however, they encounter many German soldiers for the first time, executed, hung upside down and bloodless. That’s enough to shake the men under Becker’s uneasy command. An encounter with German survivors, however, lets the Americans stumble upon a man and a shocked German prisoner (Rihards Lepers), who whispers about something dark, ancient, and supernatural haunting the forest.
To say more about the existential threat facing American soldiers would probably be to spoil one of the war hunt better ideas, but once revealed, it sends war hunt in semi-unexpected territory (without Nazi zombies, alas), but as with almost everything about war hunt, Borrelli and his collaborators fail to properly capitalize on the horror-themed ideas it introduces. It doesn’t help that apart from Becker and Walsh, Borrelli doesn’t bother to present the team in any meaningful way. When individual team members begin to fall victim to whatever inhabits the forest, it’s hard to tell who’s missing, who’s dead, and if we should care in any way. especially since the end of the game contains almost no surprises.
As Johnson relaxes at Army HQ looking at maps, books and dropping exhibit shards on his staff, it’s up to the tightly injured Becker and frowning Walsh to figure out what’s going on, why this is happening and how to stop it from happening before everyone loses their lives (or worse). It’s slow work, especially at first, but once the team’s non-German enemies finally show up, war hunt picks up considerably.
Forcing the audience/viewers to sit for the better part of 45 minutes before anything substantial or significant happens is a big ask, though. Perhaps too much to ask, but for anyone with Herculean patience who decides to stick around beyond the first hour, the final twenty minutes offer more than a few rewards, up to and including a picture-filled climax. memorably gruesome and horribly gripping.
war hunt is available on various video-on-demand platforms starting today (Friday, January 21).
- Mauro Borelli
- Reggie Keyohara III
- Scott Svatos
- mickey rourke
- jackson rathbone
- Robert Knepper