Friday, June 11, 2010

Ryan Watches A Motion Picture #37: The Wild Hunt (2009)

All you need is LARP.

I'm really glad that this didn't suck. I'd been waiting for this one to hit the Princess pretty eagerly, since hearing of it and its concept. I dared hope that I could look forward to a Canadian film I could actually endorse with honesty. It's not perfect, but it's good, and left me with the kind of reflective aftertaste that films like Apocalypse Now and Deliverance left me with - that is, a strong brooding on the lizard-brain, violent animal nature in humanity, lurking on the periphery of consciousness and waiting for a chance to assert itself. Powerful film titles to evoke, I know, but the first that came to mind. Wild Hunt doesn't approach their mastery, but is certainly effective in its conceits and is able to work within its own logic.

Wild Hunt follows Erik, a young guy who's girlfriend, Evelyn, has been seeming disaffected towards him and her life. She decides to leave him, and he finds out that she's been immersing herself more and more heavily in the secluded LARP camp that she frequents. Catching some looks from the LARP boys in the car she jumps into, Erik suddenly starts to think that Evelyn has been dishonest in her motivations for leaving and that she's left him for another man. He decides to track her down and speak to her, in a bid to win her back. Things get bad for him. Indeed, the film was much rougher than I had expected, and gave me some sequences I had to work not to flinch from. And not for any gratuitousness.

For those unfamiliar with LARP (Live Action Role-Playing), it's basically Dungeons and Dragons ramped up to its logical conclusion - people in detailed costumes, pretending to be historical or fantastical characters of their own creation in an immersive role-play driven environment. Their conflicts and interactions are governed by Dungeons and Dragons-like game rules, and typically, these activities take the form of large camping events in specialised camp grounds lasting days at a time.

Oddly enough, I actually hadn't expected Wild Hunt to play up the nerdiness of the characters to the degree of comedic effect it went for, and whenever it did it felt pretty hokey and reminded me that I was watching a movie, likely in a theatre with a handful of actual LARPers. I wondered how they were reacting to their representations on the screen. At any rate, it was a bit of fan-service that could probably have been put aside for the much weightier and more interesting characters through which the film does its best work. There are tender and profound moments to be seen, and an ending I absolutely loved.

So: Check it out if you get another chance and support some Canadian filmmaking worthy of your loonies.

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