Hunting Grounds, Drama, and Horror Are Predatory
Hunting Grounds Film Details
Original Title: Valley of the Sasquatch
Director: John Portanova
Writer: John Portanova
Release Date: February 7th, 2017
Release Format: Video
MPAA Rating: N/A
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Running Time: 1h 32min
A father, his son and two old friends arrive at an isolated family cabin for a weekend of hunting. A trip deep into the forest looking for wild game uncovers a tribe of Sasquatch that are determined to protect their land.
Hunting Grounds is a casual creature feature. The production does not have gory scenes and/or grotesque man-eating creatures. Instead, audiences have drama revolving around a Horror theme. The strained relationship between Roger Crew and his son, Michael is the heart of the film.
The sasquatch in Portanova’s may not be a literal construct. Interpreting the creature, one can see it as a metaphor to describe looming conflict. Tested are allegiances between family, friends much as it is in real life situations. In the narrative, outside influences hinder improvement in the relationship. Fuel to the unstable family bond arises in the form of characters; Sergio Guerrero and Will Marx.
With this in mind, Portanova penned an interesting script bound with a duplex meaning.
Bill Oberst Jr. takes center stage with his presence. A duality of fearful and fearlessness are portrayed well by the veteran actor. Jason Vail and Miles Joris-Peyrafitte portrayed father and son, respectively. The duo had fine on-screen chemistry with strife appearing genuine.
Filming against a natural landscape has its pros and cons. An impressive aspect of Hunting Grounds lies in the delivery of each scene. Experienced camera work notes every capture. The lighting was adequate to maintain the illusion of nightfall. Either a set or actual abode, filming inside the confined quarters didn’t seem to be a problem. Every angle within the home had an efficient use.
The creature design is a good rendition of the elusive cryptozoological beast. The concept maintains humanistic features with its neandertal profile. This is a clever design as it emphasizes the theory that of a connection between man and beast.
Hunting Grounds upon the opening frame is an attention grabber. The immediate follow-up introduces the son, father and the father’s close friends. Yet, for the rest of ACT I and most of ACT II, the story lingers on the drama surrounding these characters. The film becomes a slow boiler that roams from the principal subject, monsters.
It would be nice to have seen equal time between the plot and sub-plot.
David Saucedo in his portrayal of Sergio Guerrero is inconsistent and unconvincing. In one scene Sergio oozes with Latino machismo. The next scene finds the character afraid of shadows.
Hunting Grounds is another case in which the original title serves best sums the film. Valley of the Sasquatch gives emphasis to the setting and also describes dilemma.
Hunting Grounds delves on cryptozoological themes and uses family drama as a base. With its easygoing visuals, the film is comparable to a re-enactment of true events. This parallel is common with paranormal television shows. Violence and gore reserve the final minutes to ACT III.
The film has a fine script that supports many interpretations. Creature design and cinematography assist in defining the production.
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