Hunting Grounds [Terre De Chasse] (2008)

(Special Screening, May 2008) Chances are that you will never see this ultra-low-budget French-Canadian Horror/SF hybrid, and that’s too bad: In the realm of such features (let’s say “sub-50,000$ budgets”), Hunting Grounds is surprisingly entertaining, with eye-popping special effects, some well-controlled scenes, two big thematic concerns and a few clever ideas up its sleeve. Director Eric Bilodeau is a fast-rising star in the Quebec media SF circuit, and this film will prove to be a fantastic calling card for further things: think El Mariachi with zombies. There are even two rather good performances in the film (Patrick Leblanc and Patrick Baby) despite the obvious difficulty of French-Canadian actors stuck with largely English dialog. Viewers unfamiliar with ultra-low-budget films may want to cut Hunting Grounds a bit of slack: The dialog is blunt, the editing isn’t as tight as it could be and the staging is often at odds with the demands of the story and the often-digital sets. But even with those production handicaps, I was seldom bored and kept wanting to see what else would happen next. I’m hardly the most uninterested reviewer for this film (I helped organize a screening at our local SF convention and am coincidentally wearing the film’s T-Shirt as I write this), but you could do worse than hunt for the upcoming DVD edition to see what’s coming up in French-Canadian SF. (And while you’re at it, search for “Spasm SF Volume 1” for more Quebec-SF goodness.)

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