For over a decade Oklahoma City filmmaker Mickey Reece has been turning out indie features that have allowed the director to hone his avant garde outlaw style to perfection. I caught his latest Climate of the Hunter at the Nightstream Film Fest, and while aware of the director, I had yet to see any of his long form features until now. It was impressive as it was assured in its own cinematic language with its very Lynchian story of Alma (Ginger Gilmartin), a divorced woman who after a breakdown has been living in her vacation cabin in the woods for over a year. Her world consists of sculpting and getting high with the locals until her sister Elizabeth (Mary Buss)comes to visit just in time for an old childhood flame Wesley (Ben Hall) to come back into both of their lives. On top of some very seeded feelings of jealousy between the two over their visitor — Alma soon begins to suspect Wesley of possibly being a vampire.
American genre is usually reserved for the follies of the 20 and 30 somethings, yet here most of our protagonists are sixty or over. That fact alone adds a refreshing feel to the story, and really drew me into our cast of eccentric characters. It’s that perspective of a life lived that gives the motivation of the characters a more organic and complex feel and it only amplifies the film’s ultimate resolution. The script here feels seasoned and while like I said it does feel Lynchian, it does so with a more traditional narrative that earns that comparison with its oddly satisfying characters and their eccentric flourishes. Performance-wise, I was just amazed, each character just felt so lived in, and I was very surprised I haven’t seen these actors in much else. This is all captured with a cinematic eye that really brings out the best in the cast, the camera appears to be as entranced with them as we are watching them as this all plays out.
Climate of the Hunter invokes del Toro’s Cronos in how it tackles the vampire mythology and tropes of the subgenre while molding them to the director’s own vision. The film does this by not getting lost with the allure of monsters, but instead focuses on the core story of two sisters who deeply care for one another, but suffer from a rivalry that has only hardened as the women have matured. That’s the twisted heart and soul of this film that is brilliant in how it tackles these themes of family, love, loss and age in a way that conveys so much in an almost surreal fashion. Climate of the Hunter is strange, daring and engaging foray into a well worn sub-genre, that somehow manages to leave you completely dumbfounded while subverting your expectations.
Now excuse me while I track down everything else Mickey Reece has directed.