It’s the late 70’s and sisters Alma (Ginger Gilmartin) and Elizabeth (Mary Buss) get together at the family cabin in the woods. Alma has decided to stay there after dealing with some mental health issues, and Elizabeth has come for a visit. Their childhood friend, Wesley (Ben Hall), has also come to stay at his neighbouring cabin, and they get together for a series of dinners. These dinners are salon-esque, and Wesley regales the women with stories of his travels to Brazil and Paris. Smitten, the sisters vie for his attention. When Alma starts to suspect Wesley is hiding something about himself, perhaps that he is a vampire, she must decide whether to act on her suspicions or remain charmed by his charisma.
Mickey Reece’s Climate of the Hunter is an episode of my beloved Dark Shadows that never made it to air. That means this film has a specific audience, one open to gothic, dreamy interpretations of retro horror. There’s a lot to admire, like the middle-aged cast and the weird tension between the characters. It’s a step further into the arthouse realm than, say, Kiss of the Damned, so Climate of the Hunter won’t be for everyone. Still, the unique blend of stage play/Giallo/psychedelic thriller in the film made me want to see what happened to this group of older characters. They’re a reminder that people over 40 are just as vibrant, weird and sexually charged as any younger counterpart. I also thought the cast brought out the battle of staying eternally youthful while their bodies betrayed them quite compelling. There is also a shot of the food for each dinner, complete with a description that, to me, were signifiers of an era when extravagant dinners were the thing to do when you wanted an air of sophistication. My only issue was the mental illness bent, which comes right at the beginning of the film. A slower reveal might have served the plot better, but at any rate, Reece still uses past film styles to create something unique.
Check out this weird but poignant film available now, on-demand and digital.