Climate of the Hunter is a off-beat horror film, directed by Mickey Recce, whose astute detail for the psychedelic elevates its small-scale story into an other-worldly experience.
The reclusive Alma (Ginger Gilmartin) lives a vacation cabin, tucked away from the rest of the world except for her dog and a stoner who lives nearby. Her sister, Elizabeth (Mary Buss), is concerned about her mental well-being and insular lifestyle. So Elizabeth invites an old friend named Wesley (Ben Hall) – who they haven’t seen in 20 years – to expand her social horizon.
Wesley’s vampiric immortality underlies the strangeness of interactions as ulterior motives emerge. He reveals his wife has recently been institutionalised, and thereby presents himself as available for the “wonderfully weird” sisters. The trio all vie for each other’s affections, with romantic dinners and deserts punctuated by star-gazing and sexually explicit anecdotes. Alma’s daughter Rose (Danielle Evon Ploeger) also arrives to piercingly insult her mother for parental failings. But she also falls spell to the “silver-tongued” Wesley.
Recce frames almost all conversations in a close-up two-shot which accumulates into a claustrophobic atmosphere, but also affords attention to the emotions and tensions of the characters. The film deploys a very low-budget and grainy 1970s appearance, with numerous quick zooms and glittery lighting that starkly contrasts with the shadowy darkness of night-time that most of the narrative resides in.
With the supernatural lingering but never over-taking, the film is mostly concerned with the parental and sibling relationships. It particularly follows the sisters Elizabeth and Alma; but also the bitter resentment of Wesley’s son Percy, who loathes his father’s over-bearing qualities.
In this way, despite its minimal plot, the suitably creepy performances and brief interludes of insanity carry the 80-minute run time of Climate of the Hunter. As a kitsch film, it is compelling for its replicated 70s visual style, and moments of sporadic horror.