FilmHorror Movies

Hunting For The Hag (Unnamed Footage Festival)

From director Paul A. Brooks, co-written with producer Sierra Renfro, comes HUNTING FOR THE HAG, a hybrid-footage road trip of cryptid hunting and home invasion. While leaving me with mixed feelings, it will always come to mind when I hear the phrase ‘Found Footage horror movie.’ So it is no wonder that recently, HUNTING FOR THE HAG was the opening night film at San Francisco’s Unnamed Footage Festival on Easter weekend.

HUNTING FOR THE HAG opens with traditional cinematic filming. In a scene, Tara (Jasmine Williams) tells a lawyer (Daniel Roebuck) that no one believes her that “Hawthorne Hag” exists and that he should just watch the footage she has filmed and edited as proof. This is a scene with a kind of unserious tone that has complications down the line. After this almost cheesy but well-acted prelude, we switch to the footage on Tara’s laptop.

Cut to Tara, Beth (Alexa Maris), and Candy (Sierra Renfro), shot through the various cameras placed in the car. They are going to find proof of the Hawthorne Hag, an urban legend of a witch-like creature that roams a particular forest. Beth is the one who is obsessed with cryptids, Tara wants to make her first documentary, and Candy is their guide as the woods are near her hometown.

They radiate bubbly excitement, which is impossible not to find endearing, and the film looks to be a 2020’s upbeat BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. They fool around in their rental home, establishing characters, and then at night, they head out Hag-hunting: after saying a spell to summon the supernatural, we get a lot of leaves and spiders, but so far, the Hawthorn Hag has yet to show herself.

If you’re someone who is always hanging out for that plot twist, then you will want to see HUNTING FOR THE HAG. Because out of those woods comes a shocking 180 for the characters and the audience. Credit where credit is due- that was one hell of a surprise.

There are some minor spoilers from here because it’s impossible to talk about this film otherwise.

We take a hard left from the, by contrast, wholesome, spooky Hag hunting into hicksploitation horror that honestly gave me “the ick” if it is possible to get that from a film. My hopes for an all female lead supernatural Found Footage film were dashed with some confrontational instances of sexual harassment and assault that the tongue-in-cheek tone of the film did not match the severity of. In terms of the “hick” in hicksploitation- Thomas A. Jackson, Steve Christopher and Paul A. Brooks (as ‘Danny’) were all scary as hell.

One of the things I find engaging and love about the “found footage” subgenre is the creative lengths filmmakers go to make sure that what is happening in-frame has a logical reason to be filmed, documentation style, by one of the characters.

HUNTING FOR THE HAG has a lot of ideas it wants to fit in, but to do so, it changes from in-character filming to the usual, narratively shot cinematic filming style. But I have to say; it’s incredibly jarring- harshly ripping the seam of suspended disbelief audiences usually are happy to afford. I found it to be disappointing when there must be such creative ways to tell the same story- especially because the cast all had excellent naturalistic acting.

Despite my personal opinions about whether or not it succeeded as a hybridisation of its film style, HUNTING FOR THE HAG is theatrically and technically a sound indie film. Both the filming styles at least looked fantastic. Sierra Renfo is an absolute powerhouse behind the film, and I think that is pretty fucking rad. It is always exciting to see female filmmakers leading the future of the horror genre It has stellar performances all around, and I hope the film is a big break for the talent. 

HUNTING FOR THE HAG is also available now to rent or buy on Amazon Prime US and Vudu US. But I hope we will continue to see it on the festival circuit. 

” While leaving me with mixed feelings, it will always come to mind when I hear the phrase ‘Found Footage horror movie.”

2.5 tombstones out of 5…
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Erin Grant

Erin Grant

Erin has been writing about films for Fear Forever since 2017; to say she is passionate is an understatement. You can find her in Sydney, Australia, where she lives on a steady diet of horror movies whilst perpetually being in the middle of a film degree.
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