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These days, most younger readers probably don’t even understand the meaning of “straight to video”. But back in the day, it was a label slapped on films, often genre fare, so unloved by even their rights holders that only contractual obligation ensured they would see the light of day. This crime thriller, with its lurid serial-killer conceit and a cast peppered with talents who must have just needed the money, is a nostalgic throwback to those straight-to-video guilty pleasures of yore.
Henry Cavill glowers manfully throughout as a hardened detective named, with on-the-nose nominative determinism, Marshall, pursuing a sicko in Minnesota who kidnaps and imprisons young women in his dank torture dungeon, damaging their hearing in order to play out his compulsions. The twist is that Marshall and his colleagues, including police commissioner Harper (a slumming Stanley Tucci) and forensic psychologist Rachel (Alexandra Daddario), appear to capture the killer within the first half-hour. He is a weedy gibbering shell of man named Simon (Brendan Fletcher, chewing carpet, linoleum, astrotur) who was himself the victim of terrible childhood trauma. Rachel reckons that Simon has a disassociative personality disorder and if she could get one of his alternate personalities to talk to her they could crack innumerable cold cases.
Meanwhile, Ben Kingsley plays a retired judge turned vigilante – with an absurdly sophisticated aptitude for hi-tech gadgets and seemingly unlimited financial resources – who is working with beauty bait Eliana Jones to lure sexual predators into their trap so they can castrate them. The storylines inevitably intersect. Of course, there’s a big daft twist that the writers of Scooby-Doo might have looked askance at. This is such twaddle it becomes kind of fun, except that there’s an uncomfortable feeling – as with many vigilante movies – that the film is revelling in the sexual violence and covering itself with the fig leaf of justice-seeking.
• Night Hunter is released in the UK on 13 September.
Source: The Guardian
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