Brief Synopsis: In the forests of Canada, a large group of LARPers (Live Action Role-Players) gather to play out medieval games. One of the attendees is a girl named Lyn (Tiio Horn), who just dumped her non-roleplaying boyfriend Erik (Ricky Mabe) to come out into the game. She is accompanied by Bjorn (Mark A. Krupa), Erik’s elder brother. Erik decides to try and win Lyn back by coming up to the forest, and while he initially refuses to join in on the festivities, he is forced to do so. What starts as an attempt to rekindle their romance in turn creates a ripple effect throughout the games that will change everything.
My Take: I absolutely adored this movie. Krupa is hysterical and terribly fun to watch as the “Viking” Bjorn, for a start. A scene in which he goes berserker on a row of gas tanks at the gas station had me in stitches. He rarely breaks character and behaves as Bjorn the regular guy, and instead is almost always Bjorn, King of the Vikings.
Mabe does well enough as Erik, though the character is sort of a jerk. He rejects the constraints of the game from the get-go, constantly insulting the people around him. My only real complaint as far as characters go is that of Lyn. Horn plays her as brooding and depressed; she comes off as self-centered and shallow. I felt myself wondering why Erik and his foe, the Shaman Murtagh (A fantastic Trevor Hayes) were fighting over her at all.
The movie is incredibly well shot, especially for the shoestring budget it was done with. The costuming is wonderful and the world of the LARP is fully realized yet easy enough for the non-LARPer to grasp. There are characters enough for the viewer to love at least one of them; I had a soft spot for Bjorn, to be sure.
My favorite thing about this film was the way that it worked its way up to the climax. Starting as almost comedic, the seriousness of the situation began to become realized in slow bits. Little hints at the possibility of the madness to come were scattered about, but a sense of security that this was all “just a game” was present as well. It reminded me a bit of Takashi Miike’s Audition in this sense, though The Wild Hunt was far more entertaining during the slow build of tension. I never once felt bored by the character development or storyline, and by the time everything came to a giant, clashing climax, my eyes were glued to the screen and my heart was pounding.
A note: Make sure you watch the film through the very last scene. I would have been devastated had I not seen the last few minutes. The way the film is cut you may think it is over, but make sure you watch until the credits roll.
Entertainment value: High. I had a lot of fun through the first 3/4s of the film and was on the edge of my seat for the last ¼th. Scare value: Low. A little bit of the Wild Hunt is unnerving; the scares are more thrilling than frightening. Realistic?: Medium. It could happen, theoretically. Violence/Gore: High. There are several cringe-worthy moments of extreme gore. Sex: Low-Medium. There are several scenes of characters kissing but not much else. There is one attempted rape but it is not graphic. This movie is for: Anyone who has ever roleplayed, anyone who has ever wanted to live in a different time or place. Honestly, I think a great majority of people would enjoy the film if they can get past the violence toward the end. Films like it: I can’t think of any. There have been other films that featured LARPing but almost all have been pure comedy.
SUMMARY: A medieval reenactment game turns into a Shakespearean tragedy when a non-player crashes the event to win back his girlfriend. (IMDb)
THOUGHTS: I kept hearing things about the LARPing movie and the first thing that came to mind was, “What the heck is LARPing?” So I looked it up on Wikipedia and found out that LARP stands for Live Action Role-Playing and it started gaining popularity in the 1970’s. Basically it is like any other role-playing game but it is acted out in real life by people playing characters they’ve created. Not my cup of tea, but ok. Now that I knew what LARPing was, I felt confident in checking out The Wild Hunt which came highly recommended by a few trusted sources.
I was surprised by how enraptured I was by this movie. This sort of gaming world is something that is completely foreign to me. And while I didn’t really understand the desire behind doing something like this, I tried not to be a skeptical jerk who is watching to make fun. I suppose this helped with the first half of the movie because it did tend to drag when exploring this role-playing world.
Throughout the whole film I knew something terrible was about to happen. It had a very Lord-of-the-Flies-esque vibe to it. When people feel freed of societal constraints they will drop civility and do whatever they want. Now add that to the fact that some of these people are so caught up in this fantastical world that they are probably having trouble deviating between reality and fantasy anyways. That right there is a recipe for disaster, and that’s exactly what we get in the film’s final act.
While this isn’t a straight up horror film, there are definitely some brutal things that happen towards the end. The body count starts to rise before people even realize what they are doing. It’s interesting to see the change on the characters’ faces when they realize that they’ve smashed through the barrier between what’s fantasy and what’s reality and that their actions have real world consequences.
All in all I thought this was a kick-ass independent film. Sure, it was accompanied by many of the problems that plague any low-budget feature (i.e. poor lighting, questionable script, etc.) but when it comes down to it I was totally into it. It’s an original idea that highlights the disturbing consequences to peoples’ actions in a really cool way.