The fantasy world of medieval re-enactment has its "Straw Dogs" in this comedy-turned-thriller.

The fantasy world of medieval re-enactment has its “Straw Dogs” in “The Wild Hunt,” a Canadian comedy-turned-thriller in which grown men (plus a woman or two) dress up as Celts and Vikings en route to going truly nuts. Those wearing black finger-polish are bound to appreciate it, but first-time feature director Alexandre Franchi deserves mainstream cred for his own cheeky role-play — initially impersonating a benign satirist of the rubber sword-swinging set when his ultimate goal is a good deal more savage. An award-winner at Toronto, “The Wild Hunt” could, with proper costuming, escape the festival forest for limited theatrical adventures.

Having lost his girlfriend Lyn (Tiio Horn) to LARP (live-action role-playing), regular guy Erik (Ricky Mabe) from Montreal goes on a “love quest” with the help of his brother Bjorn (co-screenwriter Mark A. Krupa), a Viking leader in the faux-medieval world. To varying degrees, the pull of ancient ritual and/or contempo jealousy compels the players, including ferocious “shaman” Murtagh (Trevor Hayes), to act as if their battles are real, leading to bloody action beyond LARP borders. Tech credits, including Patricia McNeil’s wild costumes, are particularly impressive considering the low budget.

The Wild Hunt

Canada

Production

A TVA Films presentation of an Animist Films production, with the financial participation of Telefilm Canada, in association with Cirrus Communications, Vision Globale, Le Duche de Bicolline and Les Hommes de La Mancha. (International sales: Animist, Outremont.) Produced by Karen Murphy, Alexandre Franchi. Executive producers, Pierre Even, Mark A. Krupa, Richard Speer, Josee Vallee. Directed by Alexandre Franchi. Screenplay, Mark A. Krupa, Franchi, from a story by Krupa.

Crew

Camera (color), Claudine Sauve; editors, Stephen Philipson, Arthur Tarnowski; music, Gabriel Scotti, Vincent Hanni; production designer, Katka Hubacek; costume designer, Patricia McNeil. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Canada First), Sept. 10, 2009. Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Mark A. Krupa, Ricky Mabe, Tiio Horn, Trevor Hayes, Nicolas Wright, Terry Simpson, Claudia Jurt, Kyle Gatehouse, Spiro Malandrakis, Victor Trelles, Martin Stone, Holly O'Brien.

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