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One Movie Punch

Jan 5, 2018

Today’s movie is “Happy Hunting” (2017) starring Martin Dingle Wall as Warren Novak, an alcoholic running from drug runners on his way to Mexico to meet his newly discovered daughter. Before entering Mexico, Warren stops in a border town called Bedford Flats, the night before their annual community hunting festival. As the drug runners track him to Bedford Flats, Warren seeks refuge with Steve Patterson, played by Ken Lally, who heads up an addiction recovery group in town.


Warren struggles with withdrawal while hiding out, so he raids the Patterson medicine cabinet looking for a fix to take the edge off. However, the pills are spiked and Warren passes out halfway out the door. Warren awakens the following day, bound & gagged in the back of a truck with five other individuals, selected by the community to be hunted during the festival. Warren is also beginning to experience the first effects of alcohol withdrawal, often deadly when quitting cold turkey.

Joe Dietsch and Louie Gibson wrote and directed “Happy Hunting”, their first feature length film. The film draws obvious inspiration from Richard Connell’s oft-remade 1924 story “The Most Dangerous Game”, but executes with the cinematic styling of 2016’s independent thriller “Carnage Park”. The film makes use of beautiful panoramic shots for transitions, but sometimes overuses standard thriller editing techniques.

Dietsch and Gibson created an engaging script with enough twists and turns to keep the viewer engaged in what could otherwise be an oversimplified narrative. The dialogue can be hokey at times, making the characters feel more like caricatures, but that doesn’t stop a solid performance by Martin Dingle Wall, or a wonderful second half performance by Ken Lally. Fans of thriller and exploitation films will enjoy most of this film, and while I may not have always agreed with every decision, I did respect their vision and process.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

Metacritic: TBD

One Movie Punch: 7.0/10

"Happy Hunting" is currently streaming on Netflix.