The Wild Hunt
Director: Alexandre Franchi
Stars: Ricky Mabe, Mark Krupa
Perhaps it’s our outsider-looking-in mentality living next to America, but Canadians have had a respectable tradition of crafting odd subcultures with a refined sense of artistry.
The latest filmic foray in this arena is The Wild Hunt, Alexandre Franchi’s exploration of LARP (Live Action Role Playing), an underground world where people gather in a forest with foam swords and live in character as Vikings, elves and warriors.
In The Wild Hunt, put-upon Erik (Ricky Mabe) discovers his girlfriend has left him to join thousands of weapon-wielding LARPers at a remote medieval village as a kidnapped princess for the annual Big Battle Weekend. Setting out to rescue her with the help of his LARP-obsessed brother (Mark Krupa, who also co-wrote the film) he arrives at the wooded retreat only to find the lines between fantasy and reality have become violently unclear.
While Franchi is careful not to turn the fantasy into farce, he cleverly juggles the eccentricity of the event with heartfelt charm and humour. It is easy to see that he and Krupa aren’t just fans of escapism but respectful of the art. Franchi’s crew even filmed in costume at a real LARP co-op outside Montreal amongst actual participants.
As fun as it sounds, The Wild Hunt actually works (it won Best Canadian First Feature at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival) because it’s a powerful lo-fi thriller that captures the tragic themes of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. elieve me, as goofy as that fur-clad Viking may appear, Franchi shows there is potential for extreme violence in all of us.