Backwoods slashers are a dime a dozen and there’s not a lot that we haven’t seen. That said, the ones we get to see are usually of the American variety, so I wonder how other countries give their rendition of such a well-worn subgenre. I’m actually a big slasher fan and usually game for anything. Let’s take a look at the Norwegian entry, “Rovdyr” or “Manhunt” as generally known.

WHAT IS IT?

Directed by Patrik Syversen, “Rovdyr” is this 2008 Norwegian backwoods slasher. In it, a group of friends on the way to a hiking trip becomes the target of human-hunting locals who set them loose in a dense forest.

WHAT DID I LIKE ABOUT THE FILM?

The film pays homage to genre classics such as “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and “Deliverance”. It is a gruelling exercise in tension and boasts a number of gruesome practical effects. I also liked that the film does away with fancy cinematography. Usually, shaky cam irks me but it’s very welcome here. It captures the dirty and gritty nature of the film.

Much like TCM, the film takes place in 1974, and I love throwback films so that’s a plus for me. The cast have good chemistry that makes us care for them. We don’t really get to know a lot about them, which help make the film unpredictable despite the familiar premise. On the other side, I like that the film makes our villains basically faceless. We don’t see a lot of them or even hear them talk, which emphasizes our sympathy for the protagonists.

There’s about 20 or so minutes of setup before the terror begins for our cast and from there, the film barely gives you room to breathe. For me, this is one of the film’s strengths as there’s never a dull moment. With our scared and dirty victims, and dehumanized and silent antagonists, there’s not a lot of things to ponder upon, except to urge our characters to run, run, run. Characters who end up on the chopping block aren’t spared brutality as the film dishes out some gnarly and believable gore effects, which is something the film does well.

There are several ways for our characters to get hurt, and the film doesn’t flinch away from the painful wounds. I was only able to let out a sigh of relief once the credits rolled. It’s a brisk 80-minute film!

WHAT DIDN’T I LIKE ABOUT THE FILM?

The film doesn’t overstay it’s welcome so there’s not a lot for me to complain about, really. That said, I did wish our characters fought back more, instead of leaving our designated final girl do all the heavy lifting in the final act. Something can also be said about the immature decisions our characters do in the setup that bring them to their predicament but they’re teens and I’ve done stupider stuff myself so…nitpick over!

OVERALL THOUGHTS

“Manhunt” or “Rovdyr” is a well-made Norwegian backwoods slasher that doesn’t break the mold, but it does deliver a welcome gory rendition to the old song and dance that we know.

 

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