Beyond Fest review: 'Night of the Hunted' maximizes confined thrills

Camille Rowe stars in "Night of the Hunted." Photo courtesy of Shudder
Camille Rowe stars in "Night of the Hunted." Photo courtesy of Shudder

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- Night of the Hunted, which screened at Beyond Fest, is a tense single location thriller. It effectively explores all the possibilities of its scenario with bursts of graphic violence too.

Alice (Camille Rowe) is cheating on her husband with John (Jeremy Scippio) while her husband thinks she's on her way to a fertility clinic. During a late night stop at a gas station, a sniper behind a billboard keeps Alice pinned in the gas station mart.


This is Alice's story so don't get too attached to John. Rowe commands the screen through Alice's bouts of desperation and overcoming obstacles.

Alice uses all the stock in the store to help her survive and try to call for help. The landline is cut, as is the silent alarm and fire alarm but it was smart of Alice to check.

She also has to treat her bullet wound with gruesome improvisational tools. Alice is smart enough to create diversions and hiding places while using items on the shelf for protection.

Other drivers do show up, offering Alice a glimmer of hope and the sniper a potential body count. Some do come and go without incident so the viewer never knows.


There is a walkie-talkie through which the sniper talks to Alice. The sniper's voice (Stasa Stanic) is evocative and threatening. Director Franck Khalfoun captures a striking silhouette when the sniper emerges from billboard.

When the sniper starts to discuss his motivation, he starts talking about political buzzwords about wokeness, MeToo, antivax conspiracies and basically everything that's had social media and cable news abuzz since 2017.

With this, the film manages to both oversimplify complex issues and lay it on thick. This isolated scenario would be better served by an equally limited scope than in trying to address broad social issues.

In real life, those conflicts do manifest at the personal level so the thought process makes sense. But it's also two men (Khalfoun and Glen Freyer) writing the woman's perspective when Alice responds.

Alice does make the astute point that killing her won't solve any of those problems for the sniper anyway. That's the film's most poignant take on violence misdirected at people who don't have the power to change things.

Even in the final confrontation, the film never reveals the killer's identity. That may frustrate some viewers but the ambiguity also provokes debate.

Night of the Hunted joins the ranks of movies like Phone Booth and Buried whose limitations are the appeal. Seeing an entire movie unfold in one place can be as thrilling as the most expansive adventure.


Night of the Hunted will stream on Shudder.

Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001, and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012 and the Critics Choice Association since 2023. Read more of his work in Entertainment.

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