Alice (Camille Rowe) is travelling a long distance home after attending a work conference. Spending the night at a hotel before another long day of travel, Alice receives a phone call from her partner at 2 a.m. in the morning, confirming that she will make it to her next destination- a fertility doctor. While Alice’s partner knows that she isn’t travelling alone, and her co-worker, John (Jeremy Scippio), will be driving, he doesn’t know that the two shared a hotel room and are having an affair. Alice feels guilty and awkward about her recent poor choices, but she and John soon hit the road and continue their journey. Despite filling up the car recently for the big drive ahead, the fuel light turns on, and the pair pull into a gas station nearby, where John begins to refuel the vehicle. Alice decides to walk inside the gas station and look around. While she is browsing, a loud gunshot is heard, and she is badly wounded. Now Alice is trapped inside the petrol station while an unknown sniper fires at her and holds her hostage from afar. Can Alice find a way to escape the gas station and outsmart the mysterious sniper?
Night of the Hunted is best described as a thriller with minor elements of horror combined. As viewers may already suspect, most of the story is set at a petrol station where Alice attempts to survive and find a way to escape safely. The film becomes heightened when the sniper (Stasa Stanic) communicates with Alice via a handheld radio. Through conversation, he reveals that he knows quite a lot about her and that his reasons for holding her hostage are personal. It’s also apparent that if the sniper wanted Alice dead, he could easily do so by shooting from afar or, better yet, just walk right into the gas station and finish the task face-to-face. However, the sniper’s purpose is to torment Alice and force her to confront dark secrets from her past. Throughout the night, Alice also learns more about the sniper. At various moments, conversations are interrupted by passing customers who, like Alice, require fuel, and the film becomes gripping as she tries to either protect these random visitors or seek their help.
I must confess that Alice isn’t overly likable as a leading hero, but it’s nice that she is human with personal problems and bad life choices. We see this in the opening scene when she secretly cheats on her current partner. As the film progresses and more insight is given into her character and reasons for her poor life choices, a touching transformation occurs. Viewers discover an increase in concern for her character’s survival. While the story is set in one location, I found the pacing slightly above average as Alice encounters new challenges and strangers throughout the night. These challenges make the film more exciting, but most outcomes are apparent. Plenty of moments are genuinely gripping, and some on-screen kills are brutal, but at the same time, some character choices may also seem annoying and frustrating. Without spoilers, I will also state that the third act and finale were less rewarding than the remainder of the movie.
Overall, Night of the Hunted delivers a fantastic concept that carries moments of gripping suspense, solid thrills, and gruesome kills. The lead isn’t a perfect character, and it’s great to see a touching transformation throughout the film, making viewers more compassionate towards her as the runtime progresses. Sadly, while the film is clever at introducing subplots and hurdles for our lead, most of these scenes have predictable outcomes or consist of poor, baffling choices, which may be frustrating for a few to witness.
Night of the Hunted (2023) is Available Exclusively on Shudder from October 20th!