I used to have a soft spot for low-budget films which presented a good idea, but didn't have enough money/materials/resources to make a good movie. However, there have been pleny of low-budget films that work. So, I stopped feeling sorry those movies, and now I just call them as I see them. And Hunting Humans is one that I wished I hadn't seen.
Aric Blue (Rick Ganz)is a serial killer who refers to his killings as "hunting humans". He prides himself on his skills as a killer, and gives the viewer copious details about his mannerisms and habits. Aric maintains a legitimate cover by working as a mortgage loan officer (I knew it!). Aric's bizarre world is turned upside-down when he learns that he is being pursued by another serial killer. He must now learn who this other killer is before he becomes a victim himself.
Hunting Humans is the epitome of a low-budget stinker. The majority of the film focuses solely on one character (Aric), and we learn about Aric through reams of voice-over dialogue. These voice-overs seem to go on forever, and while Ganz has a good voice, the monotonous information about killing gets old. To be fair, the movie definitely comes to life when the second serial killer twist is revealed, but this resuscitation only lasts for a few minutes. The idea of a serial killer pursuing another murderer isn't necessarily an original one (at one point, there was a rumor that this would be the plot for the novel "Hannibal"), but it is a good idea. But, it's squandered here, as Hunting Humans drones on and on, offering little action or anything else of interest.
Pacing and plot problems aside, the main problem with Hunting Humans is that in order to succeed, the audience must not only like Aric, but identify with him. That's asking way too much of any sane audience. Sure, viewers have taken to killers from Hannibal Lecter to Leatherface, but there's little to like about Aric. Not only is he a serial murderer, but he's an ass as well. So, when another killer is pursuing him, the audience simply doesn't care. Instead of Hunting Humans, hunt for another selection in the video store.
Hunting Humans comes to DVD from MTI Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1, but the transfer is not anamporphic. The film was clearly shot on either Super 8mm or 16mm, and the image looks awful. There have been examples of nice looking 16mm transfers in the past, but this isn't one of them. The image is very cloudy and muddy. There is constant pixellation. To put it simply, the picture looks like streaming video coming through a dial-up internet connection. The night-time scenes look even worse, as the action is difficult to discern and the pixellation is even more pronounced. The colors are OK, but there are haloes around any bright colors...or moving objects for that matter.
The DVD contains a digital 2.0 stereo audio track. This tracks is almost as disasterous as the video. It's clear that much of the film was shot MOS (without sound), thus we have all of that voice-over. The voice-over material sounds fine and comes through loud and clear. But, the scenes which involve sync-sound dialouge are distorted, and at a low volume. Thus, the overall balance of the track is skewed. The sound effects, obvioulsy added in post-production, sound fine, but, once again, are much louder than the dialogue scenes.
For a low-budget exercise, Hunting Humans contains a surrpising amount of extras. We start with an audio commentary featuring writer/director Kevin Kangas and star Rick Ganz. This is a fun commentary as this duo (who have worked together for years) share a load of information about the shooting of the film. It's a relief to hear them be candid about the movie's short comings. Even more knowledge is imparted in "Beneath the Glassy Surface", a 50-minute making-of featurette, which includes tons of behind-the-scenes video footage, as well as interviews with Kangas and Ganz. Besides detailing the making of Hunting Humans, this featurette also explores the working history of Ganz and Kangas. At nearly an hour, this segment is too long, but it is certainly in-depth. The DVD contains a 14-minute gag reel of outtakes from the production, as well as a trailer for Hunting Humans, which is letterboxed at 1.78:1. The extras are rounded out by a still gallery featuring behind-the-scenes photos, and biographies for Ganz and Kagans.
As a fan of hororr films, I'm always willing to give almost any film a try. Hunting Humans had potential in its somewhat original story, but the script couldn't overcome the film's financial limitations. Ganz and Kangas are already working on their next film, and perhaps this time they'll have the resources to bring their fulfilled vision to the screen.