• Through the Trees

Fantasia 2020 Review: Climate of the Hunter

Mickey's Reece's 27th feature is an exquisitely crafted psychological horror

Written by Katherine McLaughlin

Micky Reece’s 27th feature film plays out as seductive 1970s Euro-horror meets the psychological drama of the best of 1970s arthouse cinema. Titles like Robert Altman’s 3 Women, Harry Kumel’s Daughters of Darkness and Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant spring to mind while watching.

A psychiatrist’s report sat open for the viewer to devour suggests Alma Summers may not be in her right mind. A diagnosis of body dysmorphia and delusions places a huge question mark over proceedings as a reunion of sorts plays out in a cabin in the woods over delectable evening feasts. Through Alma’s eyes the male guest of honour appears to be a vampire lusting over her blood; and who are we to say any different?

The level of craft involved in bringing this dreamy, glittering disco ball of a picture to screen is incredibly impressive. Not only that, the performances from all involved are to die for. Ginger Gilmartin and Mary Buss as battling sisters, one a divorced mother of a grown daughter, the other a careerwoman, offer sincere depictions of differing aspects of the trials of womanhood. Ben Hall’s garrulous turn is pitch perfect as the seductive raconteur preying on the affections of the sisters. His vampire persona may be questionable but he is something of a predatory monster; his appetite is fickle, as he fawns over young women, and his behaviour even more narcissistic and destructive than that of the selfish husband from Agnes Varda’s Le Bonheur.

In this precisely shot replication of an era where society suggested you could have it all, the tormented female psyche convenes with the patriarchy for fabulous dinner parties where the food looks like it has been prepared from those famous Weight Watchers recipe cards from the 1970s. The main meal may be watching the shattered remains of women come to terms with emotional turmoil, societal pressures, and their credibility being questioned but eventually the patriarchy gets his just desserts.


Director: Mickey Reece

Screenwriters: Mickey Reece, John Selvidge

Stars: Ginger Gilmartin, Mary Buss, Ben Hall

Running time: 90mins

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