Night Hunter

Even as a vigilante (Ben Kingsley) and his daughter target sex offenders whom they catch and castrate, dour detective Marshall (Henry Cavill) and psychological profiler Rachel (Alexandra Daddario) focus on the hunt for a serial rapist and murderer, whom they must catch before the women he has imprisoned run out of time.

By David Hughes | Posted 6 days ago

Thankfully, nobody has yet come up with the idea of packaging whole seasons of a Peak TV series as a feature film, but if they had, the results might look something like this uneven serial killer thriller, the feature debut of British writer-director David Raymond. It isn’t short of ideas, but the relatively brief running time provides little opportunity for any of them to develop into a coherent narrative, to say nothing of any semblance of character development that might have made it engaging.

The third-act twist briefly brings the film to life, before it fizzles out in more predictable fashion.

His standout turn in Mission: Impossible – Fallout aside, Henry Cavill hasn’t had much luck as a leading man either inside or outside the DC Extended Universe, and his character here is so thinly sketched he might as well have been credited as Bearded Cop. And when you can’t find anything interesting to do with Stanley Tucci or Nathan Fillion, you know your movie is in trouble.

It’s a pity, because the story has promise. There’s the serial killer whom one cop believes suffers from multiple personality disorder, while the other thinks he’s faking it to cop an insanity plea – surely a set-up for a Primal Fear-style battle of wits. Then there’s the sanguine vigilante who argues that the 80% recidivism rate among serial sex offenders makes surgical castration the only logical choice to prevent them from re-offending. Finally, there’s the third-act twist that briefly brings the film to life, before it fizzles out in more predictable fashion.

Perhaps the problem is that the procedural, slow-burn nature of serial killer thrillers are better suited to the small screen – they’re serial killers after all – where shows such as True Detective have the luxury of time to develop their drip-drip narratives and characters’ inner lives. Twenty-five years after the last great example of the subgenre (Se7en, unless you count Zodiac), it’s about time someone hunted down a killer script.

At a time when television is easier to make than films, it's a pity that a quart of plot in a pint-sized pot is largely to blame for this muddled misfire, which wastes some promising ideas and an impressive cast.