Fresh off the success of The Wretched and The Rental, IFC Midnight is next releasing the horror/thriller Hunter Hunter, which poses the question, are you going to be hunted or the hunter?
The film follows a family living in the remote wilderness earning a living as fur trappers. Joseph Mersault (Devon Sawa), his wife Anne (Camille Sullivan), and their daughter Renée (Summer H. Howell) struggle to make ends meet and think their traps are being hunted by the return of a rogue wolf. Determined to catch the predator in the act, Joseph leaves his family behind to track the wolf. Anne and Renée grow increasingly anxious during Joseph’s prolonged absence and struggle to survive without him.
When they hear a strange noise outside their cabin, Anne hopes it is Joseph but instead finds a man named Lou (Nick Stahl), who has been severely injured and left for dead. The longer Lou stays and Joseph is away, the more paranoid Anne becomes, and the idea of a mysterious predator in the woods slowly becomes a threat much closer to home.
Adding to the intensity of the film is the score by composer Kevon Cronin, for which he describes as “a slow burn, with bold statements.” Cronin’s other credits include The Return, Small Group and Seek. Ahead of the film’s release, we spoke exclusively with Cronin about many things including his instrumental approach to the film and his love of horror films. Read the full interview below. Hunter Hunter is set to release in select theaters, on digital, and On-Demand December 18, 2020.
Wicked Horror: What initially attracted you to Hunter Hunter? Did something in particular stick out to you from the script?
Kevon Cronin: I had been wanting to work more in the horror world, so I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to work on Hunter Hunter. From the very beginning, the quality of the cinematography, script, acting and directing were apparent and provided me with a wonderful opportunity to expand musical verizons.
Wicked Horror: Instrumentally, did you know right away the approach you were going to take? If not, how did you decide?
Kevon Cronin: To reflect the director’s vision of creating an ode to the predatory spirit, I knew that my score had to be basic, primal and stark in nature. This led me to work with a wonderful cellist, Norm Adams. In the end, I created a musical vocabulary that mirrored the environment of the story.
Wicked Horror: There are a lot of scenes where the score seems to have a slow burn into more intense sounds. Like when they discover Lou in the woods. Why did you choose to score the scenes this way?
Kevon Cronin: Because of the quality of the film, Hunter Hunter afforded me the opportunity to make bold statements throughout the film. Sometimes the boldest statement you can make, involves minimal elements. The film guided me in this manner and because of that, I was able to write music that intertwined with the forest.
Wicked Horror: For Hunter Hunter, did you gravitate towards one instrument more than the other?
Kevon Cronin: Yes, I gravitated towards the cello. It really reflected the stark nature of the environment. Like I mentioned above, Norm Adams was instrumental in creating these elements of the score.
Wicked Horror: Did you have a favorite scene to score?
Kevon Cronin: My favorite scene to score was the one with Gabriel Daniel’s character, Barthes, running into the woods while investigating, and coming upon a gruesome site. This scene allowed me the opportunity to make a bold musical statement by utilizing the simple sound of knocking on a cello and lightly bowing the instrument, to create a soundscape for his discovery.
Wicked Horror: Did you find your score changed at all from the beginning of the film to the end? If so, can you talk about how?
Kevon Cronin: Yes. Initially, the score started with a more emotional undertone to reflect the characters’ lifestyle in the forest. Once the character of the wolf was revealed, the score evolved to reflect more of the sense of tension and fear that the characters experienced.
Wicked Horror: There is a scene towards the end of the film where Lou hits his chest a few times, at that same moment there is a pounding sound. Did you use a drum for this? If not, what did you use?
Kevon Cronin: That sound was a combination of elements, including a heavily processed drum along with other instrumentation.
Wicked Horror: What would you say is your “signature sound”?
Kevon Cronin: I really enjoy the challenge of creating a unique soundscape for each film. I gravitate toward taking naturally recorded instruments and processing them in various ways to create a unique signature sound for each project that I work on.
Wicked Horror: Are you personally a fan of horror films? If so, was there a particular film that had a lasting impression on you?
Kevon Cronin: Yes, I am a huge horror film buff. While it’s hard for me to pick a favorite, the one that comes to mind at the moment is a low budget one that came out a in 2009 called The Fourth Kind. The stark environment of that film, combined by the strong performance of Milla Jovovich and the beautiful work of Atli Orvarsson left a lasting impression on me.