• Hunting Ground (Mondo Macabro) Standard Edition Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: June 8th, 2021.
    Director: Jorge Grau
    Cast: Assumpta Serna, Víctor Valverde, Luis Hostalot, Montserrat Salvador, José Antonio García Romeu
    Year: 1983
    Purchase From Mondo Macabro

    Hunting Ground – Movie Review:

    Pulling from better known home invasion films like Straw Dogs and The Last House On The Left, Jorge Grau’s 1983 film Hunting Ground (or Coto de caza – Code Of Hunting in English - in its native Spain) stars Assumpta Serna as a lawyer named Adele. She makes a good living for herself and her family by defending criminals in court, but she isn't in this just for the money. Adele genuinely believes that even hardened criminals deserve a second chance and that most criminals are a product of their environment.

    After a day in course, she's watched by a few criminals she helped get off the hook. Led by a man named Travolta (José Antonio García Romeu), they decide to follow her and steal her car. Once they've got their hands on her keys, they figure out where her fancy country home is and head over there to rob her blind. Unfortunately for Adele, she and her family arrive just as the criminals are helping themselves her stuff. Her husband is killed in the ensuing chaos and she and her children are, of course, devastated while the trio of hoods responsible for the killing makes their escape.

    When one of the crooks is caught by the police and dies in prison, Adele soon comes to realize that the death of her husband was just the beginning of the Hell she’s going to go through…

    Hunting Ground is very much a slow burn, the first half of the movie deliberately and effectively building characters and letting us get to know these people before pulling the rug out from under us in the last half hour or so. It isn’t that what happens towards the end of the movie is all that surprising, because you can see it coming, but it hits like a punch to the gut and sticks with you for a while once it’s over and done with. Grau, of course, deserves plenty of credit for the way in which he directs this film, letting the story unfold at a controlled pace, but Assumpta Serna really shines here. The rest of the cast is all very good as well but Serna is excellent in the lead role, we really feel her sadness and her anger as the walls start closing in around her. She was clearly very committed to the role and truly gives her all, making her performance here one for the books.

    In terms of production values, the film is well put together. The cinematography from Antonio Cuevas is very good and the locations used for the film work quite nicely. There isn’t a lot of special effects work on display in the film but what little there is in the film’s finale is pretty effective and believable enough to work. The film also manages to give viewers something to think about in regards to the morality of the story, the ways in which the haves seem to be in a class struggle with the have nots, when the use of violence is both necessary and acceptable and just how difficult loss can be to deal with. It’s a very powerful film.

    Hunting Ground – Blu-ray Review:

    Hunting Ground arrives on region A Blu-ray from Mondo Macabro in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.66.1 on a 25GB disc with the feature taking up 22.3GBs of space. Taken from a new 4k master of the original negative, the transfer looks very strong. There’s virtually no print damage here at all, the image is very clean. Colors are nicely defined and detail is typically quite strong throughout. There are no noticeable issues with any edge enhancement or compression artifacts. All in all, the picture quality here is pretty nice.

    Audio chores are handled your choice of 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono tracks in Spanish or English with optional subtitles provided in English only that translate the Spanish track. The film plays better in Spanish but both tracks sound pretty clean. Levels are balanced and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion to note.

    The main extra on the disc is a forty-nine-minute archival interview with Grau from 1999 where he speaks about getting his start doing theater in Barcelona only to slowly transition to film after doing some directing at a film club. He then goes on to talk about using his own experiences to come up with stories for his movies, before then going on to talk about some of his better known films like Blood Ceremony, hoping to find human depth in his films, bringing social issues into his genre pictures with Let Sleeping Corpses Lie and then going on to talk about Hunting Ground, detailing what it was like working with Serna (who he describes as excessively intelligent), some of the other performers featured in the film, the importance of forming relationships with his actors and more. Some of the material in this featurette is duplicated from the interviews included on the Mondo Macabro Blu-ray release of Blood Ceremony.

    The disc also includes the Mondo Macabro preview reel, menus and chapter selection.

    The disc also includes the Mondo Macabro preview reel, menus and chapter selection. The special packaging and insert booklet contained with the limited edition release that came out a few months ago is omitted from this standard edition.

    Hunting Ground - The Final Word:

    Hunting Ground is very much a slow-burn thriller but it’s absolutely worth sticking with it. Worth seeing for Assumpta Serna’s performance alone, the film has no trouble holding our attention as it moves towards its inevitable yet still impactful finale. Mondo Macabro’s disc isn’t as stacked in the extras department as some of their other recent releases, but the interview is interesting and the presentation of the film itself is excellent.

    Click on the images below for full sized Hunting Ground Blu-ray screen caps!