As horror films go, Climate of the Hunter is a sumptuously surreal offering by Mickey Reece and fellow screenwriter John Selvidge.
Tucked away in a cabin in the middle of the woods, sisters Alma and Elizabeth eagerly anticipate the arrival of their long-time friend Wesley. In his presence, the world eerily churns as the sisters feel varying degrees of attraction and revulsion toward him. What emerges is a tightly-woven and visually rich film bound to titillate those drawn to art house horror, and entice others along the way.
Alma (Ginger Gilmartin) is recently divorced and hiding out with her battered spirit and disillusionment. Her sister Elizabeth (Mary Buss) is a workaholic lawyer from Washington D.C., who is lavishly dressed for the part of high-flown spectator of Alma’s misfortune. Both broody and short-tempered, Wesley (Ben Hall) provides a much needed distraction and soon becomes an object of intense fascination and eventual suspicion. Essentially, is he a vampire?
Over a series of bizarrely prepared dinners, the contents of which are briskly announced by an external female voice, their discussion moves from the quotidian to the metaphysical. Wesley finds himself a great orator, and continually dabbles in philosophical quandaries and poetic effusions. Initially, both sisters are transfixed; yet as his stay wears on, Alma becomes suspicious of other-worldly dimensions and frets over Elizabeth’s deepening affection.
Ultimately, Climate of the Hunter is niche film, but the foray into suspenseful vampiric melodrama could promise more. Mickey Reece is known for the impenetrable; foisting together on-screen symbolic explosions and using melodramatic and turgidly philosophical dialogue. Yet the intrigue at the heart of his latest film, steeped in an absurdist Hitchcockian atmosphere, tethers the audience more closely. It marks a more approachable work, and indulges in a visual and dialectical bravado that might just win over the perplexed.