By: Noelle Vaughn
London, UK (The Hollywood Times) 2/2/2020 – I believe it to be my responsibility to forewarn anyone who decides to watch The Hunter’s Anthology that they should not under any circumstances expect to get anything else done, including sleep. I intended to watch just one episode, late at night (highly recommended for an even more thrilling ride) but, by the end of the first episode, I had unmistakably entered the realms of bingedom with no hope of return. It wasn’t until 5 am when the credits of the final episode rolled their way up the screen that I reluctantly accepted sleep (or as much of it as can be expected from hours of watching nail-biting demon-slaying). This review could really end here, with my congratulations to the writer/director, cast, and crew for an objective easily achieved.
Premiering on Amazon Prime on February 12, The Hunter’s Anthology is a supernatural drama cleverly concocted with all of the key ingredients that make a whodunnit a hoot. A perfectly balanced blend of mystery, drama, noir, suspense, and sci-fi, it is a riveting new twist on the traditional, perennially popular, and fail-proof formula.
Mac (Taylor August) is a brooding, mysterious, immortal, time-traveling demon-slayer. A toothpick-chewing, True-Grit Poirot, his sole purpose is to seek out evil and eradicate it from the earth before it can cause any further destruction. Locating his key suspects by sensing the hidden, dark secrets in their souls, he congregates them in a single place (in this instance a New York subway carriage). With a brief explanation of why they’re there, he begins the process of elimination; using his psychic powers, he looks them in the eye to extract a moment in their past where they have caused evil to occur, intentionally or not. The narrative is nostalgically reminiscent of Cluedo as we traverse from one suspect to the next, their experience conveyed by Mac as he relays their individual tales, leaving the other suspects and the audience to sleuth it out. All have a sinister story to tell; but who will be revealed as the demon?
Written and directed by Robert Smithline, The Hunter’s Anthology is a sterling example of the classic murder mystery refreshingly reinvented for a modern audience. With clever twists and fond, familiar echoes of Buffy, Angel, The Twilight Zone, and Tales from the Crypt, The Hunter Anthology has all the hallmarks of a cult classic.
Effortlessly delivered lines laced with sarcasm and acerbic wit offset the dramatic intensity, setting us at ease until we become complacent, then double-crossing us. The characters are unavoidably engaging; husband and wife Clint and Madison (Olev Aleksander and Kristy Cloetingh) are comfortably fun and exude natural chemistry, with expertly timed moments of lightheartedness before we are plunged back into yelp-inducing horror. Eric Colton and Jacob A. Ware provide comic relief worthy of The Office and Parks and Recreation to offset the dramatic tension that builds during “Lust Potion Number Who Cares.” The title in the latter episode piques one’s interest from the start: why on earth anyone resembling a young Marlon Brando (Colton) would require a lust potion to make himself appear more attractive to someone appears to be the biggest mystery of all – until Smithline’s cunning narrative reveals a chilling, unexpected explanation. The dramatic performances from all cast members are engrossing. In A Visit to the Asylum, phantasmagorical chaos ends in a tear-jerking finale between Cole Taylor and Lauren Lavera.
With such a strong cast, a lesser performer may struggle to hold court; but the swarthy, stone-faced countenance of Taylor August dominates the screen and asserts his authority with assured confidence that one would expect from a demon hunter who’s been chasing evil for thousands of years.
Intelligently and cleverly written, artistically shot, beautifully lit, and impeccably cast, the series is crying out for more than just six episodes. “Intention is everything,” we are told in You Can’t Unwish a Wish. Let’s hope that Mr. Smithline’s intentions are to deliver us more of this addictive series. I for one intend on watching them.
For more information on The Hunters’ Anthology, visit https://thehuntersanthology.com
The Hunter’s Anthology is released by UGLY Productions and Smithline Films and distributed by Indie Rights Movies.