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AV: THE HUNT ****

Directed by Emre Akay.
Starring Billur Melis Koc, Ahmet Rifar Sungar, /

Horror thriller, Turkey, 86 minutes.

 

Reviewed as part of Arrow Video FrightFest.

 

AV: THE HUNT is a tense and troubling film made all the more unnerving with its all too real subject matter. That the horrific and barbaric act of honour killings is still prevalent in modern society in Turkey is horrific enough in itself but director Emre Akay manages to present it as part of a nightmarish yet slightly unreal status quo that the law and society still manages to turn a blind eye to. What AV: THE HUNT provides is a gripping look at one woman’s plight that has all the narrative tension of a thriller with its unrelenting look at the evil that men are all too capable of.

 

Beginning with a couple making love in an apartment the film swiftly establishes its punishing narrative when a policeman starts trying to break into the apartment. It becomes apparent that this policeman is the woman’s husband, a fact that he shockingly makes clear when he cold bloodedly murders the woman’s lover. The woman, Ayse, manages to escape only to find herself pursued across the country by her husband and a pack of his friends including a drug snorting, trigger happy relative, Ayse’s own brother and a shy teenager who seemingly is the only character who has misgivings about the whole situation. Ayse, now disowned by her family has only herself to rely on as she tries to flee the country.

 

A large section of the film is reminiscent of Coralie Fargeat’s REVENGE; with its lone female protagonist fleeing across a vast, near surreal landscape from predatory males. Where that film however was ultimately about getting equal, AV: THE HUNT forgoes the satisfactory elements of achieving justice, concentrating instead on the injustices that Ayse continuously comes up against. The middle section of the film has a near fairy tale quality thanks to its stunning location photography. The vast forest with its deep caves that Ayse seeks refuge in and high cliffs that come out of nowhere are in stark almost surreal contrast to the unforgiving cityscape that she has fled from and must ultimately return to gain transport to escape the country.

 

With its heavy subject matter AV: THE HUNT is not an easy watch. Particularly with its punishing final sequence which manages to wring unbearable tension that has been steadily rising higher and higher throughout the whole film. Those seeking simple thriller fare should look elsewhere as this is a film that provides no easy answers but a critical look at its home countries refusal to properly tackle an old and ugly issue. The film manages to effortlessly grab the viewers attention however with its bold direction and gripping performances. As Ayse, Billur Melis Koc, effortlessly makes for a sympathetic and compelling heroine whilst Emre Akay’s bold visual style and streamlined script, which he co-wrote, marks him out as a director with something to say and the visual skills to put it across. A punishing film it may be, but one that demands to be seen and engaged with.

 

Iain MacLeod.

 

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