When Wumpus just isn't enough…
by Adam Miller
While doing some research for this film, I came across more than one review site whose mission was to “find my own low-budget diamond in a sea of coal.” Another reviewer on IMDB (perhaps the same person, I don’t know) chipped in that HUNTING HUMANS was as good as any of the banned movies from the 70s (like EL TOPO?) and was likely to one day achieve the same cult status as those movies enjoy today.
It’s an interesting phenomenon. A critical desire to be on the right side of artistic history before the rest of the pack. When I began writing for Camp Academy I too expressed a mission to “vindicate” these so-called bad films and prove that they are in fact worthy pieces of cinema. Partly this enterprise was tongue in cheek, but nevertheless I can say I sympathized with that desire to discover something within the ruins of bad moviedom that everyone else had missed.
I’ve long since given up on that goal and have noticed instead one basic fact: watching bad movies warps your brain. It warps your taste, your pleasure sensibilities, and your tolerance for Hollywood conventions. Thus I can say that I really derive pleasure from a movie about SHAPES AND COLORS. For me it’s a diamond in the rough of Big Lots bargain bins. But this is so only because I’ve had extensive “training” in watching what most would consider the unwatchable. In other words, the difference in quality between instances of the medium is negligible in contrast to the evolution of my keenness of taste within the medium. To the average filmgoer, pretty much every film on this site is indistinguishably as awful as the next. To assert any serious differences between films, I have to become more finely attuned to their characteristics (by watching a ton of them). The same, I might add, goes for the evaluation of high art as well.
So with those qualifications in mind, let it be known that for this reviewer, HUNTING HUMANS is no diamond in anyone’s rough.1 The story follows the life of serial killer Alic [sic] as he stalks random prey by night and works as a mortgage broker by day (but which job is more the evil???) Alic runs into trouble, however, when he discovers that a rival serial killer has found out who Alic is, and the last leg of the film plays out as a cat and mouse game between these two rivals.
There really are no characters to like in this film. Alic may not be the most arrogant character ever put to celluloid, but he’s the most in your face about it thanks to his constant running narration of the film. Alic reminds me of those guys in high school who discovered Nietzsche long before they should have and just kinda ran with it (you know, like Hitler). Alic claims that his victims are all done in by their patterns which he studies. So on the one hand snarky Alic is telling us to change up our lives or he’ll kill us, but on the other, one must note, Alic works a 9-5 job and never takes a sick day all the while claiming that he is “patternless.” Put your money where your stiletto is Alic!
Alic claims that by killing random people he makes it nearly impossible for the police to catch him, since they mainly rely on motive to investigate. This film, made in 2002, apparently missed the lessons of CSI where motive is rarely the issue, evidence is. And considering that Alic murders most of his victims violently, at close range, in a white T-shirt (!) and in one case even showers in the victim’s bathroom, I am convinced that Alic would have been caught loooooong ago.
The film is as pretentious as it is stupid, but what’s worse, it’s poorly made. The filming is terrible and the pacing worse. This isn’t about budget, it’s about talent. Prior to this I listened to the venerable Roger Corman talk about the importance of making the most out of low budgets by smart, efficient film making. These lessons are not recapitulated here.
Yet, as I stated at the beginning of this article, HUNTING HUMANS was for some a diamond in the rough. I think this says more about the critic than it does the film. In any case, I don’t think people will be rushing off to rewrite the canon any time soon.