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Review: ‘Climate of the Hunter’ – Vampire Romance at The Fantasia International Film Festival

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Review: 'Climate of the Hunter' - Vampire Romance at The Fantasia International Film Festival

Climate of the Hunter, directed by Mickey Reece, may or may not be about a vampire. But if it sucks like a vampire, it’s probably a vampire. Vampires are the rock stars of monsters. Everyone wants to sleep with one. What is it about vampires that is so particularly engaging? Is it the thrill of the forbidden? Or is it because they don’t give a damn? Tell a vampire they look dumb in a cape, and they’d shrug. Bitch, I am the night.

What if a vampire did give a damn? Wouldn’t that make them even more alluring? A bit vulnerable? People loved Edward Cullen not because he was indifferent, but because he cared. That’s the draw of the sensitive vampire. He doesn’t care what other people think…but he cares what you think. The vampire Wesley (Ben Hall) in Climate of the Hunter is a bit like that. He’s a (supposedly) sensitive and well-educated gentleman writer, who likes to read and smoke a pipe.

And he’s almost a widower. His wife was institutionalized, and his son isn’t too happy about it. Did Welsey put her there? Did he drive her crazy? After dispensing his wife to an institution, Wesley takes a vacation to his family’s cabin. There, he’s reunited with two middle-aged sisters, Alma and Elizabeth, childhood friends. An awkward triangle forms, with each sister vying for his attention, though Alma (Ginger Gilmartin) is more cautious than Elizabeth (Mary Buss), who modestly lusts after Wesley.

Climate of the Hunter 2019 Image

She’s drawn to him because he’s ‘good enough for her’ since she’s an uptight, careerist type. Wesley is mannered and well-groomed, so even if he’s ‘old in the tooth,’ as she puts it, she likes his style. She insults Welsey later to Alma, but she’s trying to hide how much she wants him. As if she could hide it. Alma likes him too, but Wesley is…insufferable.

Wesley doesn’t talk—he pontificates, mansplaining the stars, poetry, even pork. Not even pork is safe from him! At a weird 70s dinner with pear and tuna salad, Wesley explains to the sisters: “It’s time for the salad. Unlike in America, when the salad comes, barbarously, in my opinion, at the beginning of the meal.” He acts as if this is a revelation. Who the hell doesn’t know that? Does he think they’re rogues and he’s there to culturally educate them?

Wesley is annoying, but then again, so is Elizabeth, pretending to be kind and caring about her sister when she goes to Wesley in secret and tells him that “Alma is crazy.” She pretends to be concerned, but we all know that’s a lie. The stars know. The trees know. Even the dog knows. Wesley knows what Alma is up to since he’s a manipulator himself. He’s a vampire (probably), so that’s in his wheelhouse. Even his son thinks he’s the most selfish person he’s ever met for dumping his sick wife.

Climate of the Hunter 2019 Image 2

According to studies, 80% of Narcissists are men, not women. Let that sink in. But then again, Wesley is a vampire (most likely), and if you’re a vampire, you get to be selfish, those are the rules. You’re a bloodsucker, after all. Welsey may be pretentious and self-invested, but the sisters are into it. He’s a vampire, and that automatically makes you sexy, as they say in What We Do In The Shadows.

But do they need to fight over him? It gets ugly between the sisters. It’s Elizabeth swiping at Alma and Alma deflecting and defending herself. Alma is suspicious of Wesley, and she should be wary of anyone who mansplains salad. Is he a vampire? Or is she crazy? I don’t think women are crazy when they sense something is off about a man. I believe Alma. But will that be enough?

Mickey Reece is an indie filmmaker who has made several feature films, which is quite a feat. He made the cool-looking Strike, Dear Mistress, and Cure His Heart. The film poster has a chocolate cake that looks like a serving of death. It’s elegant and creepy looking. Like his other features, I like Climate of the Hunter because it’s weird. There are gambling vampires, bizarre-looking 70s meals, and children who hate their parents.

Plus, the leads are older people (who have lived full lives) with interesting faces and not one-dimensional L.A. actors. It’s smart to cast mature women in leading roles; it brings depth to the film. I enjoyed watching the story unfold. I was rooting for Alma and the dog. My only concern with the film was the cone the dog was wearing. I hope it was comfy! I don’t even like it when people put bunny ears on their cat.

Climate of the Hunter is screening at The Fantasia International Film Festival. If you like weird films, you’ll love this Lynchian story about a vampire looking for ‘p— in his twilight years.’ 

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