A review by Robert Long II (2011)
TAGLINE: “The Hunter Becomes The Hunted”
Starring: Tom Proctor, Neil Conway, John Rutland, Demetrius Parker, Chris O’Brocki, Michelle Trout, Mary Werntz, Frederick Cowie, Leanna Chamish, Johnny Alonso, Mark Kilbane, Joe Ripple, Savannah Costello, Jan-David Soutar, Kevin Kangas, Jared Noe
Written and directed by Kevin Kangas
Music by Chad Seiter as well as Unfaith
Produced by Tom Proctor, Robert Zeigler and Kevin Kangas
Executive producer: John Myers
Runtime: 88 minutes
“The camera is an impartial viewer.” These words will come to haunt anyone that watches BOUNTY, the new horror thriller by Kevin Kangas. I have to say this; I have followed Kangas’ career since his first movie “HUNTING HUMANS” and he does something that many other independent movie makers fail to do – he gets better at his craft. He really started to show his stuff on “FEAR OF CLOWNS II,” and this momentum has followed through on his latest films – “GARDEN OF HEDON” and “BOUNTY.”
The plot behind this is a film production crew has agreed to document the life and times of Carl “Grunt” Henderson (Tom Proctor), bounty hunter and the owner of ALL OUT BAIL BONDS in Maryland. The other bounty hunters that make up his team are Ing (John Rutland), Webb (Demetrius Parker) and Carl’s son Kelly (Chris O’Brocki). Three camera operators (comprised of Cowie, Noe, and Kangas) follow the bounty team on their exploits of hunting down “skips.”
However the movie takes a severe left turn when the team goes after a skip that they have dubbed “the mad scientist” (Neil Conway). Possessing a 192 IQ, the scientist has been able to thus far elude “Grunt” and his men. Ing (John Rutland) finally gets a lead to a possible hideout for this bail jumper, and the team close in on the location. They do not find the the scientist in, but they do find a woman bound and gagged in his bathroom. Freeing her, she attacks Kelly, stating that she thought they were all part of the doctor’s group. Kelly gets bandaged up, the girl gives her statement and leaves.
This is where everything goes South.
Kelly fails to report to work the next day. The bounty team goes about their business while keeping a look out for him, and they come across something ghastly; a beautiful young woman is found naked in a hotel room, drenched in blood and munching on the remains of her boyfriend. After turning this lunatic over to the authorities, Grunt gets the word that the scientist has shown up at his hideout. There is a snag however; someone else is keeping tabs on this “skip”… and want him dead. Henderson has to go from bringing the scientist in – to saving his life.
The movie belongs to two actors – Tom Proctor and Neil Conway. As Grunt, Proctor owns this role and plays it on many levels. One moment he’s a cocksure bad ass for the cameras, but as the film progresses we can see that he takes things very seriously, and is a concerned father and husband. Grunt’s job is very important to him, and he never mistreats the “skips” unless they get out of hand. He also tends to get a charming peeved look as he gets more annoyed with the camera crew that follows him around. Proctor shows that he can carry the movie on his shoulders quite confidently, and with a solid performance. There is never a false moment with him and his team.
On the other side of the coin is actor Neil Conway. He portrays Dr. Ernie Litwak, the “mad scientist.” We get a glimpse of him on his wanted poster early one, and he does make a menacing phone call (or two) to Grunt. Without giving away the show we find out that Litwak is anything but mad, and that – like it or not – Grunt is going to have to trust him if they are going to tackle a major problem. Conway’s performance is 100% believable and he plays well opposite of Proctor. He also embodies a bit of pathos when the truth of what is happening emerges. These two actors’ performances make this movie the great movie it is.
Overall, the supporting roles are filled with actors with solid acting chops. Standouts include the performers portraying the rest of Grunt’s team. I would like to make a point of singling out actress Michelle Trout. She plays Grunt’s wife and has several emotional and distressing scenes which she handles like a pro.
You might ask what is music doing in a documentary style movie? Well, a lot of documentaries have music and it works well in the case of BOUNTY. For one thing, the music is only used in a couple of spots, and when it is it matches what is on screen beautifully. Chad Seiter has been Kangas’ composer on several films and he is yet to let him down. The music of the group Unfaith is used to good advantage as well.
What’s always impressed me about Kangas is that he’s a good writer. BOUNTY has some very clever bits in it; if you pay attention to what is going on there are instances of subplots that have a wonderful payoff later on in the story. Also, he knows when to have bits of humor interjected without going overboard – and these spots never mess with the mounting tension he has built in to the narrative.
This is not to say that BOUNTY is a perfect movie. There are two minor instances where I found the acting a little off or over the top. Also, while viewing this on a 52″screen I still had trouble reading the end credits – the font was perhaps too small. But these are tiny quibbles that do not detract from enjoyment found in watching this motion picture.
Final Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Corpses. BOUNTY is one part INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, one part DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER mixed in with a little of John Carpenter’s THE THING. This should give the potential viewer enough information to want to seek out this excellent movie. To say anymore would be giving too much away and would ruin it. Right now it is playing on Video on Demand with FIOS, Comcast and other companies, and is slated to come out on DVD later this year. I urge you – strongly – to check it out.
For more information on where to check out BOUNTY, click on the image above to go to Kangas’ website.