Mixing bits of home invasion with pieces of the slasher subgenre, low-fi indie horror Hunt Her Kill Her premiered earlier in 2023 in select locations. Its writer and co-directing team, Greg Swinson and Ryan Thiessen, previously helmed the obscure found-footage, Five Across the Eyes. However, the less said about that vile effort, the better. Though 17 years is a long gap between film-making efforts, Hunt Her Kill Her has attracted relatively more viewers and a middling but decent critical response.
Single mother Karen is starting her first night shift as a cleaner at a furniture factory. Caught in the middle of a heated custody dispute with her ex, Karen is looking to move forward and scrape together a living. But when a group of masked men break into the factory in the middle of the night, Karen finds herself fighting for her own survival.
Hunt Her Kill Her Gets a Bit of Tension From a Simple Premise
Let’s start with the things that work about Hunt Her Kill Her. For what’s clearly a low-budget thriller limited to a single setting, co-directors Greg Swinson and Ryan Thiessen know how to get the most out of a thin concept. Little time is wasted setting things up before our masked intruders turn up. To their credit, Swinson and Thiessen keep the ‘cat and mouse’ scenarios simple as Karen moves from hiding spot to hiding spot. With her tormentors never far behind, Hunt Her Kill Her manages to keep the tension levels at moderate levels. A handful of decent scares pop up and while you never doubt that she’s going to survive until at least the final frame, Swinson and Thiessen do create some urgency in some scenes.
To their credit, Swinson and Thiessen keep the ‘cat and mouse’ scenarios simple as Karen moves from hiding spot to hiding spot.
Perhaps what’s most surprising is the relative amount of restraint shown by Swinson and Thiessen. The duo’s previous directing effort, Five Across the Eyes, was an unnecessarily mean-spirited and ugly movie. Occasionally, Hunt Her Kill Her – as the title implies – skirts the line into misogynistic territory. But the violence never strays toward Grindhouse levels. Instead, Swinson and Thiessen treat their second feature-length movie as more of a straightforward survival horror with bits of slasher thrown in. Though it’s not a long movie, the premise stretches itself pretty thin over the middle act. As a result, some the developed tension dissipates before the duo ratchet it up for a pretty well-executed final act.
Hunt Her Kill Suffers From a Lack of Surprises and Compelling Villains
While a fair amount of tension arises from its ‘cat-and-mouse’ scenarios and straightforward premise, Hunt Her Kill Her misses opportunities to be a much better thriller. In part this reflects problems with Swinson’s minimalist screenplay. A simple concept is fine, but Hunt Her Kill Her lacks much in the way of character and surprises to fill in the quieter moments. When two co-workers corner Karen in a staff washroom about her custody battle, even the most novice viewer should immediately figure out who’s underneath the masks. Here, the masks aren’t much more than an aesthetic choice to make our killers look ‘scary’. There’s no mystery to the masking and the masked intruders don’t fall under the ‘unstoppable killer’ trope either.
A simple concept is fine, but Hunt Her Kill Her lacks much in the way of character and surprises to fill in the quieter moments.
No where is this issue more apparent than in the final act where Hunt Her Kill Her lacks a compelling villain and twist. Yes, Swinson and Thiessen manage to ramp up the intensity for a fairly rousing, if not, abrupt conclusion. But the reveal of the last intruder falls flat as the identity is never in doubt. And it’s a character that never plays much of a role throughout the movie. That is, Swinson and Thiessen seem content to string Natalie Terrazzino’s ‘Karen’ from peril to peril without a true major villain waiting for her. At least Terrazzino acquits herself well as an ‘everywoman’ fighting against overwhelming odds.
Hunt Her Kill Her Gets Mileage From Simple Premise, Raw Execution
It doesn’t get much more basic than Hunt Her Kill Her. Even at just under 90 minutes, this thriller feels a little bit stretched over its middle act. Following on Five Across The Eyes, Swinson and Thiessen are almost too restrained with the material. But the finale recovers nicely and delivers the kind of brutal resolution for which the story demands. Don’t expect much in the way of surprises or inventiveness. Most viewers will figure out the identity and motive of the masked assailants immediately. Nonetheless, Hunt Her Kill Her may satisfy horror fans looking for a straightforward approach to …