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Christopher Webster [Celluloid 07.16.08] movie review scifi horror action



Year: 2008
Release date: TBD
Director: Eric Bilodeau
Writers: Eric Bilodeau/Gagné Jonathan
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: agentorange
Rating: 7.2 out of 10

Leave it up to another French Canadian maverick to take a script that would have been turned down by every studio in Hollywood for being too ambitious and go out and make it himself with a group of friends and limited resources. That's what I think about Eric Bilodeau's drive as a filmmaker in a nutshell but, considering the amount of smart PA flicks we've been getting from the French Canadian indie scene of late, I cant say I'm completely shocked at the sheer ambition of Hunting Grounds. I mean, between Zordax II, 2027: Le Depart, and now Hunting Grounds, we've been treated to some of the most visually adventurous and genre bending low budget fare in quite a while - as well as a bit of a lesson in what Bilodeau's English speaking compatriots have been perhaps failing to accomplish. Hunting Grounds is a "very big small movie" with lots of smarts and proof that amazing things can be done with a little ambition and very big kahoonas. But what exactly is the film all about? And how did it evolve?






Hunting Grounds is about a future world where coming in contact with nature has been outlawed and human dependence on virtual reality has reached its apex. Except this ain't no holodeck garbage people. Virtual reality has become so advanced that people travel virtually, communicate with virtual doubles, and even interact in virtual spaces. A group of virtual hunters and revolutionaries who are fighting to break free of the soul numbing dislocation of virtual reality, break out of the walled in Quebec City to go out into the wild on a "real hunt." Except, due to a top secret military experiment that's gone fubar, they end up having to hunt a hoard of zombies!

I was lucky enough to chat with Mr. Bilodeau over the interwebs this week to find out how the heck you come up with a film as big and with so many ideas as Hunting Grounds and, well, it turns out it's because he's got big influences. In fact, you could say Hunting Grounds is DUNE meets Dawn of the Dead, but I won't, because that would actually just end up being an understatement if you can believe it. Here's what Bilideau had to say about what was going through his head when he set out to make Hunting Grounds:

"Well, the idea of making a feature film without financing came after seeing S.I.C.K. (Serial Insane Clown Killer). This film was so bad that I figured that, with our experience, we couldn't do worse. That was the first idea but I also wanted to mix Sci-Fi and Horror - but not hardcore horror. I am a huge fan of the first Romero trilogy, especially Dawn and I think that the social critique he expressed as zombies was brilliant - I wanted to continue in that direction. Also, I probably have a lot of Frank Herbert's Dune (the books) in the political setup."



There is no question that a dissident political thread underlines the action in Hunting Grounds. From his presentation of a future Canada that is oppressive and militaristic, to the cautionary eco message, to a real paranoia about our growing reliance on virtual environments, Bilodeau excels at taking a big bold scifi canvas and painting it with profound messages about who we are now and where we might be headed.

"To me, the most important message is about our dependency on virtually built environments. It is a very important critique. My idea with the film has always been to tell a story and to "show" people our reality."

However probably the biggest political move Bilodeau made with Hunting Grounds was to have the majority of the film in English, a move that has actually been getting him some flack by his French Canadian peers. From my own English speaking point of view, getting his French actors to speak in English felt like a hindrance to the flow of the film and like Bilodeau was just looking to reach a wider audience. But, after speaking with him about it, he owned up to some of the his other thoughts on the decision.

"Obviously, it is to reach a wider audience, but it is also a very French Canadian critique of our society. I've been to countless film sets and if there is one or two Anglophones in the group, we all speak English - that's how we are I guess, we want to make people feel comfortable and we know English (a lot of us do) so we usually have that tendency, even in the business area as well. Following that logic, when the scene was with Francophones, it was in French, when there where Anglophones, it was in English. Also, I think that Canada is all about those two languages, we should be proud of both and practice them if we can."





Of course, besides all the social commentary, Hunting Grounds is also a marvel for the eyes, full of eye popping special FX and enough scifi gadgetry to make even the most hardened scifi buff weak at the knees. It really seemed like the film had everything in it; awesome zombie make-up, convincing models, well integrated CGI, and the odd bit (but not too much) gore for those of us who kind of like that stuff.

And the best part of it is that we're getting even more in the future! According to Bilodeau; "Hunting Grounds was always intended to be very Sci-Fi dense, and it's actually the first of 4 films. This one settles the ground." So there you have it folks. Keep your eyes on Quebec because there's sure to be more amazing post apocalyptic/cyberpunk/horror action coming our way.







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cyberhal (13 years ago) Reply

excellent review

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Upton (10 years ago) Reply

This isn't a review.


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