Hunting Grounds (2015) – Movie Review

In recent years, Bigfoot has come back into vogue for horror movie creators. The giant, hirsute forest dweller has had his story told many times over the past few years, labeling him as a bloodthirsty monster far removed from the Harry and the Henderson‘s gentle giant. With movies like Abominable (2006), Holler Creek Canyon (2006), Willow Creek (2013), Exists (2014) and Bigfoot: The Movie (2015), the Sasquatch legend has found new life in the horror community. Not since the ’70s have there been so many movies about the cryptozoological creature with the size 27 shoe. This May 2nd, a new addition will be added to the Bigfoot movie craze. Also known as Valley of the Sasquatch, Hunting Grounds breathed new life into an old legend.

The official synopsis:

A father, his son and two old friends arrive at an isolated family cabin for a weekend of hunting. A trip deep into the forest looking for wild game uncovers a tribe of Sasquatch that are determined to protect their land.

Hunting Grounds was written, produced and directed by John Portanova (The Invoking 2013) and produced by horror label The October People. The film stars Miles Joris-Peyrafitte (As You Are 2016), Jason Vail (Six TV series), David Saucedo (Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones 2014), D’Angelo Midili (The Invoking 2013), and PopHorror favorite Bill Oberst Jr (Circus of the Dead 2014, Heir 2015, After Hours 2016) while the creature effects were supervised by Doug Hudson (How the Grinch Stole Christmas 2000).

What Worked

I thought Hunting Grounds had great flow. There wasn’t any unneeded dialogue or padded, lagging scenes. There were also some great characters. Teenager Michael (Joris-Peyrafitte) and his newly widowed dad, Roger (Jason Vail), are both still shaken by the death of Michael’s mother. Running out of savings and still not ready to go to work, Roger moves his son to the mountainside hunting cabin owned by his late wife’s family to try and save money. He invites his buddy, Sergio (David Saucedo), a cutting, unsympathetic man full of machismo, up to the cabin to go hunting, much to the chagrin of Michael.

The kid’s only saving grace is his visiting Uncle Will (D’Angelo Midili), his mother’s brother and the only person who seems to have Michael’s best interests at heart. I loved the family dynamic between Michael, his father and his uncle. Sergio, on the other hand, could not die fast enough. He was such a douchebag to everyone around him. However, the fact that I couldn’t stand him just shows how well David Saucedo’s acting is. Last but not least is lone camper Bauman (Bill Oberst, Jr.). Bill Oberst, Jr. is one of my favorite actors and when I found out he was going to be in this film, I was even more excited to see it. So when he was attacked by a mysterious, hairy creature in the first five minutes of the film, I felt pretty let down. Would he survive?

 What Didn’t Work

Although the film had great flow, I was disappointed that the first onscreen Bigfoot kill didn’t happen until over an hour into the film. As a matter of fact, there was only one onscreen Bigfoot kill. For a movie about killer Sasquatches, I was hoping to see more damage done by these giant guys. I was also not very impressed with the look of the Bigfoots… uhm, Bigfeet? The bodies were fantastic but the faces looked like hard plastic masks that never changed expression. They were’t very scary, either.

Final Thoughts

A winner of the Best Sci-Fi Horror Film at the Toronto Independent Film Festival 2015, Hunting Grounds is a decent way to spend an hour and a half. You won’t find anything mind-blowing in this film, but if you’re a fan of the mighty Bigfoot, you’ll probably enjoy this one. Hunting Grounds will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on May 2 through Uncork’d Entertainment (Peelers, Bethany, They Call Me Jeeg). The extras included on the DVD include audio commentary with writer/director John Portanova, producer Matt Medisch, and director of photography Jeremy Berg and a making-of feature. The Blu-ray has all of those things as well as deleted scenes and John Goes Squatchin’, a featurette following Portanova as he embarked on his first Squatchin’ trip into the Washington rainforest. So grab yourself the DVD or Blu-ray after May 2nd and let us know what you think of Hunting Grounds!

About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of PopHorror.com, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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3 comments

  1. Hey Tracy,

    Thanks for watching and reviewing Hunting Grounds, and for the kind mention. I’ve always been interested in the Sasquatch legend, so this was a fun project to be a part of. PopHorror is awesome – many thanks for all you do to help give exposure to indies.

    gratefully,
    Bill

    Bill Oberst Jr.
    billoberst.com

    • She’ll be so happy that you said this. Thanks Bill!

      – Tori

    • Bill,
      You’ve made my day! I appreciate you taking the time to write this message. You are an inspiration to indie actors and I’m thrilled that you’ve taken the time out to respond to our article. Thank you so much!
      Tracy