Climate of the Hunter

The car pulls up like something out of a horror movie, shining red and too youthful for the driver; dressed head to foot in black, as black as his dyed hair, Wesley emerges and waves at sisters Alma and Elizabeth, friends from childhood who have not seen him in twenty years, he now rarely returning from Europe to the country of his birth, they rarely together at their summer cabin in the woods, Elizabeth a busy family lawyer based in Seattle.

The setting may be rustic, but they still dress for dinner, Elizabeth’s hair drawn back, golden toned foundation applied to her face and adorned in matching jewellery, Wesley quoting the works of Goethe and Poe, Elizabeth vying for attention between them, the divorced hippie wood sculptor who suffers from delusional disorders trying to match their sophistication.

Wesley’s wife Genevieve hospitalised in Paris, the arrival of his son Percy exacerbates rather than dissipates the tension, accusing him of abandoning her and holding him responsible for her condition, the bad blood brought to the surface by Percy’s “accidental” addition of garlic to the salad dressing, fully aware how violently and uncontrollably his father will react.

Like a lost relic of the seventies, the hazy images filmed with an autumnal glow, the Climate of the Hunter borders on cold, the warm days of summer gone and the leaves turning, Elizabeth and Alma fruit left to wither on the vine despite Wesley’s appraisal of them as “good stock,” while Percy believes his father’s “dark life” will continue forever, touched by “this beautiful curse.”

Directed by Mickey Reece from a script co-written with John Selvidge, Ben Hall is the mesmeric but almost nocturnal Wesley, the woman drawn to him, even prepared to fight over him, Mary Buss, Ginger Gilmartin and Danielle Evon Ploeger as Elizabeth, Alma and Alma’s daughter Rose, with only Sheridan McMichael’s surly Percy immune to his father’s dubious charms.

Abstract and dreamlike, the juxtapositions as surreal as Genevieve’s collagen lips and vacant stare, Climate of the Hunter is as eccentric as the platters served by the sisters (“crown of frankfurters with baked potato soup and pear and tuna salad”) but has an offbeat charm, Dark Shadows played as a chamber piece of candlelit resentment, filled with silences so profound the ticking of the sister’s biological clocks is almost palpable, Wesley’s urges directed elsewhere but equally powerful.

Climate of the Hunter will be streaming digitally from Monday 23rd August



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