REVIEW: 'The Hunter's Anthology' (2021), a mystery thriller series by Smithline Films
Updated: Sep 22, 2021
Six strangers find themselves trapped in a New York City subway by Mac, a mysterious man who claims to be a demon hunter. Insisting one of them is evil, he peeks into their souls discovering five eerie, supernatural tales. It’s then up to Mac to solve the mystery and destroy the demon amongst them.
“I’ve always been a big fan of the old ‘The Twilight Zone’ series. Each story was always so different, and I liked watching one after another. When writing ‘The Hunter’s Anthology,’ I used that as a frame of reference but added my own twist. I thought it would be cool to have all the stories intersect with Mac, the demon hunter who serves as the central storyteller. We see everyone through his eyes. Mostly it’s about people’s fears (their own demons) and how they choose to face them. I think that relates to just about everyone. And a mystery driving at the plot will hopefully keep people interested the whole way through. I think audiences will have a lot of fun with it. It’s meant to be a fun escape into Mac’s world of the supernatural and demon hunting. Hopefully they’ll get creeped out, get surprised, maybe laugh a little along the way, and try to guess who the demon is!”
- Robert Smithline (director)
Outside the Spotlight says: By Robert Smithline, The Hunter’s Anthology is a series about six strangers who become trapped in an underground train in New York by a demon-hunting cowboy. The hunter, Mac (Taylor August), has reason to believe that one of these strangers is a demon, although he cannot know for sure. His abilities grant him the power to sense who has been “touched by evil” but not to concretely know whether or not they are an actual demon. In order to appease his suspicions, he looks into each of their souls to learn of a time in their lives when they were supernaturally involved, and Mac’s suspicions have never been wrong.
What follows is five different stories, each with its own distinct feel. Beginning in a rather familiar setting with an eccentric fortune teller and an unlucky reading. Things take a sinister turn and the story ends in twisty fashion, which sets the mood for the remaining four parts nicely. Smithline’s main influence in creating THA was television classic The Twilight Zone and the influence is certainly visible along with shades of Supernatural and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This appears to be a world where the supernatural is known to exist, apparent by the lack of real panic and air of indifference of some of the characters at the event of a demon literally bursting through their front door.
The five stories are engrossing and spooky with each using a different sector of the paranormal, helping to keep the saga fresh. There’s witchcraft, home invasion, mental hospitals and love potions; making The Hunter’s Anthology accessible to a wide variety of viewers whether you’re into mystery, horror or science fiction. There is also a bit of social commentary woven into the webs, bringing up how we choose to face fear and evil in its different forms, whether it be physical demons or metaphorical ones. Also, perhaps just our fascination with the paranormal whether seeking it out or looking at it through a peephole.
The performances are all very good with some standing out more than others and, as with any anthology series, the same can be said for the episodes. Personally, the standout was the third story with its excellent use of cinematography to create a real sense of chaos and nightmare. The series makes up for its limited budget with a certain charm brought on by its minimal special effects and small environments, often evoking a sense of claustrophobia that only adds to the tension. There are a few cliches along the way, but what THA does showcase is that it’s very self-aware, with a couple of them hilariously alluded to in little fourth wall moments. The demon hunter himself, Mac, is as mentioned, a cowboy who also sports a toothpick and an overly serious, steely-eyed demeanour; exactly how I would picture a demon hunter not named Sam or Dean.
Having said that, Mac does end up being a rather intriguing character because THA ends with so many questions left unanswered. We still don’t know where Mac came from, why he ended up in a time that is not his own, what his end goal is, or whether or not he is immortal. There is set up for future stories to close the final episode and those future stories would be a much welcome return to Mac’s adventures.
- About the director -
I grew up in Wyckoff, New Jersey, just outside of New York City. All my life, I was writing creatively, whether it was in the form of pictures, words, or both. Separately, I’ve always had a love for film. Growing up, I used to watch my favorite movies over and over again. Still, I never really thought you could make movies for a living. I simply didn’t know anyone who did at the time. One year in high school, I got this idea in my head that I wanted to write a science fiction novel. I felt I had a good idea and I wanted to just try it. I saw there was a creative writing elective class. I figured if I was going to write it anyway, why not get some school credit for it. What I didn’t expect was that I’d end up writing a whole lot more, and in my senior year I submitted my portfolio to my high school’s writing contest. I had never done anything like that, but I won and that’s when I became serious about writing as a career. Filmmaking still wasn’t a realistic possibility in my mind, but I was still very interested in movies... Read the full interview with VoyageLA
Where to watch The Hunter's Anthology:
Fear, suspense, thrills, mystery, a few laughs, and the unpredictable: that's what makes the supernatural anthology genre so special. Just like The "Twilight Zone" series and so many more that have followed, "The Hunter’s Anthology" is made up of a collection of interconnected tales that keep you guessing, designed to make you think while sending chills down your spine. I’ve found these kinds of tales share one thing in common: they’re about fear and how we choose to face them. In the case of this series, it’s fear of a possible future, an intruder, losing our sanity, facing bullies, rejection, and worst of all, pure evil. "The Hunter’s Anthology," in the form of six short stories, lets us peek into our main characters’ souls and discover how each personally reacts to fear, and quite literally, their own demons. Mac's journey takes us into the iconic, claustrophobic New York City subway and keeps us guessing the whole way through. Who is the demon? There’s only one way to find out. Join the hunt!
Watch the trailer below:
Writer/director - Robert Smithline
Producer - Arezu "Nicky" Akmal
Director of Photography - Ben Wolf
Mac - Taylor August
Rod - Eric Colton
Tabitha - Jenna Bossier
Clint - Olev Aleksander
Madison - Kristy Cloetingh
Steven - Cole Taylor
Jennifer - Sara Mari Lopez
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