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The smartly scripted, well-executed, female-driven thriller “Hunt Her, Kill Her” is refreshingly real while still utterly engaging.

Here we go! Sometimes all you want is a no-nonsense, nailed-on simple story that is an exercise in brutality.

The basic premise here is that we have a lone night shift worker starting her first night at a furniture factory. She is a single mother who barely gets by during these challenging times. So, this post could be a lifesaver. Or taker.

I didn’t expect much from this except that it might be a fun 90 minutes to watch… but it’s great.

A well-shot opening sequence pulls you out of the factory space as it switches down for the evening, indicating just how foreboding that space would be if you were there alone. The initial 15 minutes or so provide some information on the place, the job, and how some employees feel toward her.

Nothing is established about Karen except that she is a single mother with some hand struggles due to an old injury.

The factory creaks and moves as she moves around it, anchoring the film as a believable location.

This slow sequence kicks over once the gang appears — masked intruders with no apparent motive.

Suddenly, we are in a chase for survival as our protagonist has only herself for help to escape this situation.

And she isn’t taking prisoners.

The best is that she still manages to have the presence of mind to hide one of the assailants following his demise, and some of her tricks used really show off her smarts here. She isn’t hysterical. She knows she’s fighting for her life, but she’s already experienced so much trauma that she understands what she needs to do to survive.

I also appreciated that she doesn’t get away without damage, which imbues the proceedings with a sense of believability. In a way, it reminded me somewhat of First Blood in that there are quiet moments where Karen uses her smarts to heal herself using household products. And it is grim.

There are some outstanding practical effects, but these are not overdone and are rooted in realism when they occur. We also get grimace-inducing moments, but these are handled deftly and are not lingered on.

The filmmaking is exceptional and shows some great touches.

The visuals and sound design are well thought out. The camera remains tightly focused, and there isn’t a shot wasted. There are also some moments of the darkest humor. I won’t spoil those moments here, but I will reassure you they fit within the context of the film and don’t cause you to raise an eyebrow or facepalm.

Watching Hunt Her, Kill Her, you aren’t hit over the head with reminders that this is a low-budget, independent film. 

Not only is it technically strong, but this is a film that respects the audience and keeps the focus on a smartly-crafted script from writer/director Greg Swinson (who co-directs with Ryan Thiessen).

The masked men don’t have night goggles or supernatural powers. In the same vein, Karen isn’t a fully formed final girl. What we get instead are believable characters in plausible situations.

Natalie Terrazzino excels at playing Karen, convincingly navigating her way around this new environment while trying to evade the terror of the masked men.

Much of her acting is silent, spent conveying fear, and she carries the film through to the end.

Speaking of that end… wow.

There’s a reveal that manages to change the dynamic completely, and it gets dark — taking you down the rabbit hole with Karen as you wonder, right beside her, how she will get out of this predicament.

The filmmakers adeptly engage the audience so that you are buckled in tightly for every minute of the ride and invested in our heroine’s plight.

We get a satisfying “woman in peril” story that feels authentic and terrifying without stretching credibility. 

As I dug a bit deeper into the film, I read that the directorial team of Swinson and Thiessen stated that their fundamental rule is to use what they have around them as effectively as possible. In that regard, they absolutely succeeded.

Everything just works — from the sound and score to the story to the excellent cast.

And it’s not just Terrazzino that knocks it out of the park. The rest of the cast is excellent at getting under the skin of their respective characters, even those that are masked. It’s a well-conducted orchestra.

Finally, I’ll add that the location is a massive plus for the film. Using an existing factory, with all of the pathways and blind alleys, lifts this above what could have been a fairly pedestrian thriller.

There is no fat in Hunt Her, Kill Her, but it also doesn’t feel rushed. It’s not filled with blood, nor does it telegraph what will happen next.

Ultimately, this is just a compelling, well-made thriller that deserves to be seen by a wider audience.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 4
Hunt Her, Kill Her is being released in 150 U.S. theaters on March 3, 2023. Get tickets here

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