The Hunter

A mercenary, Martin David (Willem Dafoe), is dispatched by a biotech company to the Tasmanian wilderness to retrieve a DNA sample from the thought-to-be extinct Tasmanian Tiger; apparently the animal is possessing of a toxin which the corporation seeks to weaponize. Walking a thin line between local redneck miners and tree huggin' greenies, David surreptitiously lays traps for the rumoured, elusive beast while he shacks up with widowed mother, Lucy (Frances O'Connor).

The Hunter has many things going for it but credibility of plot is not one of them. Why on earth a multinational corporation, which clearly has some clout, would pour resources into tracking down an animal that by most accounts is extinct rather than source a tissue sample from a museum is not made clear. Perhaps the novel by Julia Leigh (the writer and director of the recent Sleeping Beauty), on which the film is based, exposed the reasoning behind this. There is also a turn of events towards the end of the film which defies all apparent logic but to mention it here would be too big a spoiler.

Plot flaws aside, however, the film is very competently produced and it is to director Daniel Nettheim's credit that the narrative cracks are papered over reasonably effectively as the film plays out to its remarkably brave conclusion.

The performances are roundly excellent and the slow burn nature of this psychological thriller puts it on par with the likes of Deliverance. Its application of themes of extinct Thylacines and murder in the Tasmanian wilderness invites frightful parallels to the gratuitous Aussie horror, Dying Breed, which is a little disconcerting while watching the film, but rest assured that no cannibals turn up here. And of course, the Tassie wilderness is, naturally, absolutely stunning.
Stuart Jamieson

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