“Night of the Hunted” steeps viewers in tail-chasing circuitous logic and asks us to relate to a trapped, desperate lady cipher who may or may not be reaping what she’s sowing. An ambiguous ending, lifted from “Night of the Rat,” leaves viewers to decide for themselves, but there’s only so much worth engaging with beyond the filmmakers’ reflex-testing nastiness.
Who really wants to mull over both-sides victimhood in such a target-poor environment? We don’t learn much about the generically resourceful survivor Alice (Camille Rowe) before she gets trapped by a whiny gunman (Stasa Stanic). Alice receives too many texts from her clingy, concerned boyfriend, Erik (Aleksandar Popovic), but she still texts back that she wants to make things work with him, too. This might come as a surprise since Alice’s fair-skinned partner’s vulnerability is contrasted, both in his texts and in a brief video-chat phone conversation, with Alice’s stoic traveling companion, John (Jeremy Scippio).
It seems weirdly important for us to know that John is Black, as we’re reminded by the punchy lyrics and subwoofer-testing rap music he plays in his car. John is driving Alice to a fertility clinic, but they never arrive. Also, there’s a hole in John’s gas tank, presumably made by the shooter, who knows some things about Alice. She’s exasperated but kind to her pathetic, clueless boyfriend but snaps at John. And then the shooting starts.
Not much else gets started once John’s been disposed of and Alice has been shot into a huddle at the back of the gas station. Handheld and/or visually oversaturated photography gives viewers the impression that we are uncomfortably close to Alice as she scrambles to help herself escape with whatever she can find on hand, including a mop, a cell phone, a walkie-talkie, etc. Nothing and nobody helps Alice, though, of course, so the siege drags on.
To keep things interesting and/or irritating, depending on your taste for edgelord button-mashing, the shooter constantly taunts and complains to Alice. Using a walkie-talkie that, for some reason, never gets turned off, the sniper judges her for making assumptions about him based on his misanthropic statements and actions.
Alice’s captor also points out that she works as a publicist for a pharmaceutical company, which is apparently worse than being a literal murderer. He can’t resist suggesting that Alice doesn’t need to sleep her way to a promotion nowadays: all she has to do is accuse somebody or bring up their sordid pasts, including old college blackface photos.