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Happy Hunting (2017) - Movie Review

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Happy Hunting - Movie Review

4 stars“Tradition.  Without it, we are nothing,” suggests Sheriff Burnside (Gary Sturm) as he stands in front of his ragged townsfolk, delivering words he’s not had to change in over a decade.   And they nod with approval.  A man is nothing without deed to back up his words and, trust me, their shotguns are cocked and loaded.  Burnside speaks the verses the small town of Bedford Flats lives and dies by. 

And, in this focused delivery, the writing, directing, and editing team of Joe Dietsch and Louie Gibson sharpen their knives in preparation for some fine dining on America’s social hypocrisy.  Happy Hunting is a two-fisted feast for the moments we currently live in, blood soaked and noteworthy, the film absolutely works to achieve an unforgettably tasty debut.  And, yeah, we really do want more.

Happy Hunting, being much larger than its one stoplight border town territory suggests, operates as a grimy b-movie that draws most of its inspiration from your freshman English courses.  And, as a former 9th grade English teacher, that’s not a bad place for decent beginnings.  At all.  Dietsch and Gibson just take their time in getting our debased anti-hero, Walter (Martin Dingle Wall) where he needs to be as he, after attempting to double-cross some nasty hombres, finds himself down Mexico way looking for his long-lost daughter.

What he finds right on the edge of the border is an impoverished community, besieged by an endless dust bowl of filth and hopelessness, whose residents – once members of a thriving hunting community – practice in an annual hunt … of humans.  And, unbeknownst to him, he is now their prized target.  Co-starring Ken Lally, Connor Williams, and Fear the Walking Dead’s Kenny Wormald, the gun-toting explicitness of Happy Hunting shines a much-needed spotlight on America’s complacency, unmasking that pretension for the dreadful nightmare that it has now become.

Filmed in Bombay Beach, CA but looking like its straight out of Mad Max, the timing of a violent flick like this one couldn’t be more prescient if it tried.  Guns, automatic and otherwise, are on a lot of people’s minds these days and, throughout the 90-minute running time of Happy Hunting, we get to see all sides of America’s obsession with guns.     

Happy Hunting, with its Shirley Jackson-like horror setup, is, of course, where The Purge meets The Most Dangerous Game.  It’s stark and haunting but manages to do more than turn a dirtbag into a vessel of sympathy thanks to its use of a desert landscape and a charged theme of morality-based judgments of violence.  The film may have had its premiere at Screamfest Horror Film Festival last October but, thanks to its VOD and its limited theater engagement, it finds new life this year.

With Happy Hunting, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth just got served its 80-proof.  Bottoms up, Amigos.  


Happy Hunting - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: R.
91 mins
: Joe Dietsch, Louie Gibson
Louie Gibson, Joe Dietsch
Martin Dingle Wall, Ken Lally, Kenny Wormald
: Horror
Run for your Life.
Memorable Movie Quote: "What happens if you go cold turkey?"
Theatrical Distributor:
Vertical Entertainment
Official Site:
Release Date:
September 22, 2017
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: An alcoholic drifter must battle withdrawal and psychotic rednecks after he becomes the target of a deranged sporting event.

No details available.

Happy Hunting - Movie Review

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