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Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Wild Hunt (2009 Alexandre Franchi)

"Why are my sons dreams filled with sorrow"
I watched this last week in a craving for something LARP related, it's an interesting indie horror with some comical but interesting characters and a slightly warped and unfair representation of LARP.

If your not familiar with the concept of Live Action RolePlay, it is an activity in which you get dressed up in fantasy apparel and play a character you make up in a fantasy world of magic and swords. It is wicked fun and fighting criminals and monsters gives you an amazing adrenalin rush giving normal people a chance to feel like a hero. My only big problem with the film is its misrepresentation of larp. Whilst it manages to show how in depth, fun, immersive and interesting it can be the horror aspect of the film uses this to create a good but unfair thrill for the audience. The Larping community is horribly misrepresented, whilst it is an obvious extreme that would never happen the public opinion of the hobby is fairly low and this representation is something that uses fear of the unknown and creates fear for an unknown. As a LARPer I implore you, if you watch this film remember like most horrors it is exaggerating something innocent to scare an audience, Larp is good friendly fun!

The plot is based around Eric, Bjorn who is Eric's brother and Lyn Eric's boyfriend. When Lyn and Eric fall out she joins Bjorn in the world of LARP to escape and get some time away. Eric decides to leave his disabled father for a day to look for Lyn and bring her home, an anti-Larper its fair to say Eric doesn't fit in but with the help of a ref in the game he finds Lyn or Princess Evlynia as she is known in LARP. He cannot win her back from the hands of the LARPers who have (in game) kidnapped her, and so with the help of his brother, a Viking leader, sets to win her back ingame to win her love out of game. SPOILER The rest of the plot is pretty basic, they win her back, it ruins the game of LARP as the Ref's were not notified and the main antagonists stop playing. This is a low point in the film, these people wanted an escape and some fun and an outsider has ruined their war. One of the antagonists is particularly twisted however and kidnaps the princess yet again, this time for real. What follows is a slaughter by the antagonists, in a typical horror twist the game turns ugly and the antagonists crush the rest of the players and brutally murder Eric. Lyn, scarred by the beating and murder of her boyfriend jumps off a waterfall to her death. One of my favourite bit of the film is its end so BIG spoiler alert! Bjorn who throughout the film has used a prop Mjolnir, the hammer of Thor and prayed to Viking gods and been a really good in character player, returns home to look after his father. Accused of running away from his duties a his brother who died in his arms he vows not to fight any longer, not to fight in Ragnarok, not to be part of the war or the stories any more. The film ends with an amazingly brutal scene, the main antagonist is sat in a hut in Canada and goes outside to pick up his paper, when he steps back in Bjorn crushes his spine with Mjolnir and follows the crawling man killing him with a blow to the head. He leaves through the back door he came through, I imagine pleased with the justice in his actions. END OF SPOILER

Now on to the actual review! I assume the majority of the fairly low budget for this film went into the sets and lighting of the LARP scenes that take up the majority of the film. I say this because the other scenes in the film set in the family home are of quite a poor quality, it is possible that the overexposure in these scenes is accidental and a lighting problem. On the other hand I believe that the over exposure is a stylistic choice, they make the scenes look unreal and distort the vision of the audience. In contrast the LARP scenes are filmed normally making them seem to the audience more normal, this reflects the experience of Lyn and Bjorn who use LARP as escapism and in the case of Bjorn see it as a better, clearer world of right and wrong which gets distorted throughout the film. This smart little insight improves the film and elevates it above the "just a horror" category and into a slightly more intelligent film. I enjoyed the moments of comedy in the film and the LARP was strongly believable until it turns dark.

A decent horror, I think it uses LARP to take an analytical look at right and wrong in more simpler times compared to now, a comparison that is personified in Bjorn and Eric. I enjoyed the film however I did feel as a larper a little bit like I was being made fun of. I remembered however it was exaggerating for effect and got over myself enough to enjoy the film. Once the theme of right and wrong came apparent I enjoyed the film even more! Its worth a watch for horror fans Larper and non Larper alike.

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