Happy Hunting follows a drug dealer trying to lay low after a job gone bad. He hides away in a small town with a terrifying secret...once a year they hunt a small band of people for sport. Running for his life across an unforgiving desert, he has to find a way to survive and escape with a group of psychotic hunters on his tail.
Happy Hunting Review
There isn't much that demands respect in this film. You aren't getting anything unique. Everything in the picture screams "parody", but for the majority of the runtime, it feels like the director's goal was anything but. The opening and closing credits say to the audience, "just kidding!" But when everything in between says, "take me seriously", you just laugh it off.
The film feels like it was going for a mix between Texas Chainsaw and The Most Dangerous Game desert rip-offs like Desierto, Beyond the Reach and the cumbersome Mojave. What you get is an embarrassingly lesser homage that takes itself too seriously virtually the entire time. Rarely did I feel like I was supposed to laugh, but I found myself doing it anyways.
The tension is built by the plot-hole-inducing stupidity of the characters. Rather than being a cat-and-mouse game of who is more clever, it's more about who isn't going to make the fatal mistake. For a town of avid hunters, a lot of these people are bad at hunting. And for a protagonist with a knack for survival, he sure lacks the necessary instincts to deserve to live a majority of the time.
Yeah, it's understandable that perhaps I'm mistaking the humor intended, but it sure feels like the director was trying to build actual atmosphere and failed miserably. It wasn't without merit from an entertainment perspective, but it was more-so in spite of the movie than in favor of it.
There has been a string of movies in an eerily similar vein, and it simply isn't a premise that holds enough weight to be repeated this often. Desierto tackled political elements of the general Republican view of our neighbors to the South and Beyond the Reach discussed the moral implications and lack of responsibility that we generally associate with the wealthy. Happy Hunting covers none of that and doesn't trade it for superficial fun.
Horror Qualifier: 7/10
Horror Quality: 4/10
Film Quality: 3/10