Combustible Celluloid
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With: Mickey Rourke, Jackson Rathbone, Robert Knepper, Aglaya Tarasova, Anna Paliga, Fredrik Wagner, Lou Stassen, Josh Burdett, Alex Mills, Tom J. Benedict, Elliott Wooster, Ben McKeown, Timo Willman, Christopher Hunter, Matt Mella, Dainis Grube
Written by: Mauro Borrelli, Reggie Keyohara III, Scott Svatos
Directed by: Mauro Borrelli
MPAA Rating: R for violent content, language and some sexual references
Running Time: 93
Date: 01/21/2022

Warhunt (2022)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Witch's Doom

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A mix of fun genre craziness — with a tacked-on Mickey Rourke — and snatches of ridiculously awful filmmaking, the wartime horror tale Warhunt sadly doesn't offer enough of the former to overcome the latter.

It's 1945 and an American military plane has mysteriously disappeared over Germany. A team of a dozen G.I.s, led by Sergeant Brewer (Robert Knepper), is ordered to head into the woods to find the wreckage, and possibly any men still left alive. Major Johnson (Mickey Rourke) arrives on the scene and adds specialist Walsh (Jackson Rathbone) to the team. Walsh's job is to retrieve a secret package from the plane.

The team wards off a Nazi attack, but then things grow stranger as they encounter three beautiful women living in a windmill. From there, they can't seem to make any headway, walking in circles and are attacked by a man whose sewn-up body is filled with black feathers. The men begin seeing things, disappearing one by one, and losing grip on sanity. Will they ever escape the woods?

Warhunt begins with some humdinger dialogue, like Sarge's "this ain't no opera... these (referring to rifles) ain't violins, but they just happen to make sweet music of their own." Rourke gets some of his own: "You know you're back in the thick of things when lukewarm dirt passes for coffee," he growls wearily, his face battle-worn, capped with an eyepatch and cloaked in a leather jacket. That stuff, paired with the haunted woods, filled with spooky sounds and eerie omens, looks promising. For a while — despite the dumb title — it seems as if this might be silly fun, not unlike Shadow in the Cloud.

But the not-fun stuff eventually kicks in. Warhunt is frequently dark, and it's sometimes difficult to see what's going on. It's confusing, and not in a fun way. And the digital FX, showing the villainous witches turning into swarms of black feathers, look cheap and smeary. For a time, it looks like there are only two witches, but by the final showdown, we learn that there are actually three!

The G.I. characters tend to blend together, and we're unable to tell them apart, let alone identify with any of them. (A Black medic almost never seems to be onscreen, except for the few scenes in which he's needed.) And the three name-above-the-title actors often choke on their hammy dialogue, slipping down into what may appear to be bad performances. The final "it-ain't-over-yet" moment is enough to inspire eye-rolls, rather than gasps.

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