Capsule Review: Night of the Hunted (2023)

It’s P2 redux but instead of a parking garage, it takes place at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. Franck Khalfoun, who previously directed that 2007 single-location thriller, even features a hapless young woman as the protagonist in the form of Alice played by Camille Rowe.

In Night of the Hunted, Alice ends up at a gas station to get a cup of coffee and some snacks while her colleague, John (Jeremy Scippio) is refilling the fuel tank. Then something happens: A bullet whizzes out of nowhere and hits Alice when she’s leaving the gas station’s mini-mart. There’s a sniper hidden somewhere and she doesn’t have a clue why she becomes a target in the first place.

But the shooting just keeps on coming. The injured Alice soon finds herself stuck in the mini-mart with no chance to call for help. What follows next is a long night of survival as Alice tries her best to stay alive while trying to find out the reason behind the sniper’s killing spree.

The title — Night of the Hunted — is actually an English remake of David R. Losada’s 2015 Spanish horror-thriller La Noche Del Ratón (Night of the Rat). I didn’t watch the original before so I have to set aside the comparison between the two and judge Night of the Hunted by its own merits.

Khalfoun, who also co-wrote the screenplay alongside Glen Freyer, wastes little time getting to the point. After a brief prologue that foreshadows Alice’s fate later at a gas station, he manages to keep the suspense taut and the violence brutal. Just like P2, he captures the dread-inducing tension within the confines of a single location in the mini-mart. There’s no way out as the back door is padlocked and the front entrance is a suicide mission if she tries to make a run for it. She is just an ordinary person who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The bullet wound only slows her down as it limits her movement.

A movie like this relies heavily on how good an actor can make us root for his or her character. Well, Camille Rowe delivers an engaging lead performance in Night of the Hunted as we see her predicament trying to survive the night. She is mostly a one-woman show, even though there are other characters involved. Not an easy feat to pull off such a performance but she did it, going from a hapless woman to someone who had no choice but to improvise the situation on her own.

Khalfoun deserved praise for sustaining the tense moments, particularly during the earlier parts of the movie. But the tension tends to deflate every now and then as the movie goes on. This is especially true as the unseen sniper starts ranting about everything topical from anti-vaxxer issues to Big Pharma conspiracy theories and woke culture. I get that Khalfoun tries to stay relevant here but the extended rants and heated debates between Alice and the crazy sniper often sapped the momentum of the movie.

Despite the shortcomings, Night of the Hunted remains a reasonably gripping single-location thriller led by Camille Rowe’s standout performance.

Night of the Hunted is currently streaming on Shudder.