You shouldn’t judge a book from its cover. Hunting Emma – movie review

Upon reviewing (or I’d better say ‘bashing on’) Revenge, I received a few comments on social media and on my blog telling me I was wrong, that the movie was awesome and so on.

However, among those senseless comments that didn’t even try to argue why I was wrong, a guy suggested me to check out a 2018 South African survival horror named “Hunting Emma”. According to him, “Hunting Emma” succeeded in everything Revenge failed to accomplish.

Well, I’m glad he did suggest me to check the movie out, since he was was right, for the most part.

I must admit my ignorance when it comes to South African cinema, but I do really love or at least appreciate the few movies I watched from that part of the world. “Hunting Emma” is no exception.

Hunting EmmaThis film follows, unsurprisingly, Emma, a pacifist teacher who’s going to spend her holidays at her dad’s house. However, while she’s driving through the South African outback (can you say that or is it only valid for Australia?), Emma’s car breaks down. Meanwhile, a group of six petty criminals is driving along the same road when they’re stopped by an officer: things go downhill pretty fast when they kill the policeman and start hunting Emma (clever, right?), who witnessed the murder. Contrarily to their beliefs, though, Emma is no easy target…

“Hunting Emma” uses a plot that’s been done before in quite an effective way. Through constant flashbacks to a certain moment in her life, we get to learn how Emma learned to defend herself and become a kickass ‘final girl’. Little by little, Emma’s skills are unveiled as the movie progresses, making her a very compelling character you route for.

The movie is violent and bloody – albeit never as gory as it could have been – but it’s also loads of fun: despite the serious tone and the genuine threatening atmosphere, violence and fights are very entertaining as Emma turns into a female version of Rambo!

Hunting Emma 2Yet, the villains aren’t stock characters: they have different personalities and, even though they’re quite one-dimensional, they seem realistic and representative of people who could end up in a situation like that. The actress who plays Emma is also fantastic, she sent chills down my spine in a couple of scenes.

The filmmaking choice of creating a sort of post-apocalyptic feel (through hand-held camera and desaturated colours palette) gives “Hunting Emma” a peculiar tone that’s very different from the generic horror flicks’ atmosphere.

Hunting Emma 1Also, the movie has balls for utilising Afrikaans as the main language: it could have been spoken in English to make it more marketable, but the decision to hire actors who speak Afrikaans as their native language enhances the realism.

As per issues, “Hunting Emma” can be unevenly paced and has an ending that’s rather anticlimactic: after the turning point halfway through the movie, you basically know what’s gonna happen next. That causes the film to be predictable, even tho it remains enjoyable and entertaining.

One thing really and undoubtedly sucks though: the music. Ranging from Afrikaans rap to spaghetti western, the score is a mess and the tracks rarely match the tone of the scene they’re referring to. My Blu-Ray player nearly committed suicide during certain cues…

Nevertheless, Hunting Emma is overall an effective thriller/survival horror flick that will most likely entertain you for 105 minutes. And the titular Emma is a great, empowered character worth knowing!

Hunting Emma       7/10

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imdb My review is also available on IMDb – Hunting Emma