“The Wild Hunt” takes place in the world of LARP. No, that’s not a place like Middle Earth or Oz, it’s an acronym for Live Action Role Playing. Imagine Dungeons and Dragons outdoors and with elaborate costumes and you get the idea. Players create a mythology, don costumes and physically act out their characters’ actions. “The Wild Hunt” examines what happens when the real world collides with fantasy land.
The film starts simply enough. Dumped by his girlfriend Evelyn (Tiio Horn), lovesick Erik (Ricky Mabe) follows her to a LARP event where she now wears the pelts and crown of a Viking princess. Also attending is Eric’s wacked-out brother Bjorn (Mark A. Krupa) who takes his role as a Viking warrior a bit too seriously. As the Viking showdown with the Celts approaches Eric realizes he must carry a foam sword and play along if he hopes to leave with Evelyn on his arm. Here the story deepens. Eric’s outside interference is unwanted, not just by Evelyn but also by the evil Shaman Murtagh (Trevor Hayes). Eric’s presence throws off Murtagh’s plan to “sacrifice” Evelyn in The Wild Hunt ceremony. Before you can say “Pass me the mead,” bona fide violence erupts and the line between fantasy and real life blurs.
“The Wild Hunt” is a strange beast. Set against a backdrop of Viking mythology, complete with battles, elves and some real violence, it is by turns amusing, engrossing and horrifying. The tone of the film darkens as the running time ticks by. The violence—both mental and physical—becomes more realistic as the LARP spins out of control, but none of this would matter much if the characters weren’t as well developed as they are.
Both Eric and Bjorn have story arcs that exist in real life and fantasy land. Eventually as the two meld the brothers discover what really makes each of them tick. It’s interesting stuff, and even if the tone is a little uneven, “The Wild Hunt” remains one of the most intriguing films of the year so far.