The Wild Hunt
Director: Alexandre Franchi
Stars: Ricky Mabe, Mark Anthony Krupa, Trevor Hayes
This is one of those movies that Netflix recommended for me. I hadn’t heard of it before and chose not to read the synopsis and jump right in based on the box art alone. The film opened with a wild band of Celts kidnapping a princess. A Viking warrior witnesses this and returns to plead with a king to rescue the princess. A fight between the Viking and the Norman king ensues and they attack each other – battling for the crown. The Viking claims the crown only to have the king raise up and say:
King: No fair man, I hit you twice. You’re dead!
Viking: No, I have this magical cloak of power.
King: No fucking way man. Gimme back my crown.
Yes, The Wild Hunt is not a period piece at all – it’s a film about LARPing. For those that don’t know, LARP stands for Live Action RolePlay. For people who want to go beyond the imaginative realm of tabletop gaming – LARPing offers a community of people who occasionally dress up and become their character – playing out their fantasy in a “realistic” setting. You ever play pretend as a child where a broomstick is a mighty sword and your friend is the evil wizard guarding a stolen princess? Well the LARPing community is made up of adults who still play pretend. While this community has been explored in movies before, it’s usually in either a farcical manner (Role Models) or in some unnecessarily preachy “these people are EVIL” kind of way (Mazes & Monsters, any Crime TV show). The Wild Hunt presents the serious topic from a dark and realistic perspective.
The film’s main protagonist is Erik (Ricky Mabe) who is left alone to take care of his dying father while his brother Bjorn (Mark Anthony Krupa) and his girlfriend Lynn spend every weekend in the wilderness immersed in their role-playing game. It’s hard for them to get away, Bjorn is, after all, the leader of the Viking clan while Lynn is the fabled Princess Evlynia. That’s pretty much all there is for the first half of the movie – the damn boring half. It’s just Erik moping around his house and crying while imagining his girlfriend in all kinds of LARP orgies. This is occasionally interrupted by Bjorn wandering through a Renn fest village and shouting about Norse gods.
After over 30 minutes of NOTHING – Erik decides to drive up to the LARP event and bring his girlfriend home. Of course his refusal to play this game in character and drag away a vital member of their fantasy/drama causes a huge rift in this community. True to reality, these LARP folk take their game VERY seriously. If you’re interested to find out just how serious the LARPers take their trade, check out The Spoony Experiment (Noah Antwiler) and his show Counter Monkey as he talks about the role-playing community. The Wild Hunt does take an interesting and a dark turn as these people get SERIOUS about their game.
If you’ve got the patience to stick through the boring half of this Canadian LARPing movie it is eventually worth it. The Wild Hunt is a SLOW movie with a decent payoff – though it doesn’t quite make it worth it. It’s a good enough movie when it finally does end – but is it worth the wait? Well, I wasn’t really attached to the characters and was only watching the movie because I had nothing better to do at the moment so.. No, not in my opinion. There’s simply not enough happening to keep interest in this movie going. I appreciate the novelty of a more realistic view of the LARP community but that dies down rather quickly. In short, The Wild Hunt is an overlong and tedious movie that eventually rises to the level of “Well, that wasn’t too bad.”