Hunters, Syfy’s newest series, which premieres April 11th at 10 pm, looked pretty cool at comic con so when we were given the opportunity to view the first two episodes we jumped at the chance. Before we delve into our reaction to the series let’s look at the official blurb:
HUNTERS follows Baltimore FBI agent Flynn Carroll (Nathan Phillips, “Wolf Creek”) whose wife suddenly and mysteriously goes missing. His search for her leads him to a highly-classified government organization – the Exo-Terrorism Unit (ETU) – who track and fight alien terrorists. Britne Oldford (“American Horror Story”) plays Regan, a valuable ETU operative keeping secrets of her own. The series also stars Julian McMahon (“Nip/Tuck”) as the dangerously unhinged terrorist, McCarthy.
So at first glance I’m thinking Exo-Terrorism? A little too on the nose considering our world’s recent history? But hey it’s a new show let’s check it out right?
Wow. It simply knocked me off my feet. The first episode opens with a scene that was so very disturbing and well done it had me hooked immediately. Casting Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck, Charmed) as the first arc’s “big bad” McCarthy was brilliant. He can play a villain with such wonderful creepiness, when the script is right, that you can’t look away. It had the flavor of a Criminal Minds episode, they gave you just enough to know something truly horrible is happening right before your eyes but they hold enough back that you must keep watching. That first minute is used so well that when it ties-in later in the story you immediately nod to the writer and director.
After the first unsettling minute we jump back 72 hours and see the story unfold. A raid on an industrial plant is filled with such violent, visceral images it borders on a full-fledged horror film, it gives us a good idea of what’s to come. The abduction and aftermath of Agent Flynn Carrol’s wife Abby, played by Laura Gordon, is handled surprisingly realistically. Instead of a montage of Flynn (played by Nathan Phillips, “Wolf Creek”) kicking down doors and smacking around informants we see him talking to the missing person’s bureau, people at his home making fliers, and handling uncomfortable conversations with their teen daughter. Following a lead Flynn stumbles onto a lot more mystery than he (or we) saw coming and his investigation draws the attention of the ETU. All in all a great pilot, one worth watching.
Syfy made all the right choices with Hunters. As Director Ernest Dickerson shows with that moment of normalcy after the abduction, the moment when most “cop shows” would have kept the action high, this is a show that knows it’s pace. Dickerson has a solid grasp of the rise and fall of a story and he sets the tempo early keeping you slowly building then peaking, then slowly building again. His story beats are solid, and his turns come right where they should. The effects are sublime and barring one or two totally invisible throughout the pilot. The use of movie level make-up and effects really ramp up the discomfort factor and make the physiology of the aliens that much ickier.
The casting choices are spot on as well. Most of the actors take on their roles with understated solid performances, there’s no scenery chewing to be found. Even when Julian McMahon is playing a taught emotionally charged scene against Britne Oldford (“American Horror Story”), who kills it as Regan an ETU operative with a secret, they play it straight.
So what’s the verdict? The cast is full of solid actors, the story is interesting and fresh, the directing and production are top notch. This should be Syfy’s flagship show. See more images and trailers at Syfy.com/hunters
Check out some images from “The Beginning & The End” Episode 101, premiering April 11th at 10pm on Syfy (check your local listings for time and station)