Uber-prolific Oklahoman outsider hero Mickey Reece is back with his latest opus, Climate of the Hunter – only his second release from 2019 (it initially premiered at last fall’s Fantastic Fest), which is honestly a little slow-going for him. But since garnering a bit more acclaim on the festival scene and working with (slightly) higher budgets, he seems to be ever finessing each subsequent film’s style.
Set at a peaceful lakeside cottage, Climate concerns two aging sisters who while away the days in a state of passive-aggressive competitiveness. Pitched to maximum delicious melodrama by actors Ginger Gilmartin and Mary Buss, the immediate staginess of the action and awkwardly intellectualized line readings make sure to hit all the hallmarks of Reece’s typically cracked worldview. When a dapper old flame named Wesley (Ben Hall) comes for an extended visit, it heightens the tense environment even more, especially with the sneaking suspicion that he may in fact be a vampire.
Climate operates in the same key of hushed camp creepiness as Reece’s 2018 Strike, Dear Mistress, and Cure His Heart (which also starred the wonderfully emotive Mary Buss), a haunted hotel flick which created a hypnotic Lynch-meets-Waters atmosphere. And while the look and feel of this one is certainly on-point (Reece shoots in Academy ratio with a grainy film aesthetic and there’s no doubt that the spirit of Jean Rollin hovered over things), I found myself growing slightly more impatient with the constant ironic self-awareness on display. In turning towards mannered genre fare in recent years, the wild spark of Reece’s earlier efforts (the drug-addled, in-your-face Tarsus comes to mind) has been somewhat smothered.
But it’s still worth a watch, if only because there are few others currently making movies with the same level of hardcore artistic commitment.
- Release Date: 8/18/2020