Oklahoma filmmaker Mickey Reece's acclaimed horror movie 'Climate of the Hunter' getting theatrical release
Oklahoma independent filmmaker Mickey Reece's critically acclaimed horror mystery "Climate of the Hunter" will be released in theaters in December.
Dark Star Pictures has snapped up the North American distribution rights to the creepy drama, Deadline first reported. Dark Star plans to follow December's theatrical release with a VOD and digital release in January.
"That's incredibly exciting," Jacob Ryan Snovel, a producer and actor on the film, said in an interview on location in Oklahoma City for the next feature he is producing, OKC writer/director Kyle Kauwika Harris' crime drama "Out of Exile."
As previously reported, "Climate of the Hunter," the twisty 1970s-set tale of two sisters competing for the attention of an enigmatic man from their past who may or may not be a vampire, has enjoyed a stellar run on the film festival circuit, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
"Climate of the Hunter" played last year at Austin, Texas' Fantastic Fest, which is the largest genre film festival in the United States. It has subsequently been shown at the Nashville Film Festival, Chattanooga Film Festival, Calgary Underground Film Festival, Florida Film Festival, Indy Film Festival, Atlanta Film Festival + Creative Conference and this month's Nightstream Film Festival.
Although many film festivals this year have gone virtual or adopted a virtual/live hybrid model due to the coronavirus pandemic, that has not stopped "Climate of the Hunter" from racking up rave reviews, especially after the recent Fantasia International Film Festival based in Quebec, Canada.
"We just kept getting more and more invites to these big festivals, and we were like, 'Well, we might as well play there, too.' And Dark Star was all about it, just letting us get as much momentum as we could," Snovel told me in our interview.
As previously reported, Reece lensed "Climate of the Hunter" last year in his home state. It was shot on location in secluded cabins near Tahlequah in early February 2019 and made use of the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program administered by Oklahoma Film + Music Office.
"It's beyond our expectations, because our next step with 'Climate of the Hunter' was really to take advantage of the rebate so that we could really get more into the business side of it and start dipping our toe into that kind of water and getting our whole group into that," said Snovel, who has made at least 15 films with Reece.
"So, for it to take off the way it did, with basically no Hollywood names - Mickey's probably the biggest name attached ... in that scenario - I'm blown away."
A prolific indie auteur who has been called “Soderbergh of the Sticks,” Reece is best known for his no- to low-budget approach to making movies. "Climate of the Hunter" is the 27th film the Newcastle native has made since 2008.
“We’re just weekend warriors,” Reece told me in a 2019 interview about his surreal comedy "Arrows of Outrageous Fortune," which played at Oklahoma City's deadCenter Film Festival. “It’s fun. What we’re doing is fun. We’re having fun. Everyone’s everything fun. The other option is, what, you go to a bar with your friends. This is just like going to a bar with your friends, only there’s a movie at the end."
But starting with “Mickey Reece’s Alien,” a reimagining of the tumultuous early years of Elvis and Priscilla Presley’s marriage shot in evocative black-and-white, the Newcastle native started venturing into more elaborate filmmaking with makeup, costumes and wigs. "Mickey Reece's Alien" - starring Snovel as the King - won Best Oklahoma Film award at the 2017 deadCenter Film Festival and propelled Reece and Snovel into larger projects like "Climate of the Hunter."
"That was the movie, too, where we just discovered that sometimes it just takes the guts to go make a movie that's outlandish. And to have the guts to make a movie about Elvis starring a ginger kid from Chandler, Oklahoma, is really strange anyway. That's why I was like, 'You know, this is going to be so insane that you might as well just put your name on it,'" Snovel said with a laugh.
Reece name has started to grow in stature since. As previously reported, "Climate of the Hunter" was the second straight movie he had at Fantastic Fest, after the 2018 showing of his film "Strike, Dear Mistress, and Cure His Heart" at the Austin festival.
"Climate of the Hunter" is billed as a spiritual sequel to "Strike, Dear Mistress, and Cure His Heart." The script for “Climate of the Hunter” was written by Reece and John Selvidge, the latter of whom co-wrote the script for Reece’s “T-Rex” (2014) and “Suedehead” (2015). Producers of the film also include Mikey Bill Taylor, Ron Sutor, Beth Alonso, George Adams and Snovel.
Starring Snovel, Ginger Gilmartin, Mary Buss, Ben Hall, Laurie Cummings, Danielle Evon Ploeger and Sheridan McMichael - many of whom are frequent Reece collaborators - “Climate of the Hunter” has been described as "a visual interpretation of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s 1985 debut album, 'Psychocandy,' under the guise of two sisters and their battle for the affection of a man who may or may not be Dracula."
"We felt like 'Agnes,' which we shot in January ... would be the true breakthrough because it has the stars, it's got a little more clout behind it. We had more lighting equipment and an actual full crew," Snovel said with a laugh. "So, for us to kind of launch out of 'Climate of the Hunter,' with 'Agnes' following close on the heels is just absolutely phenomenal."
As previously reported, "Agnes" - which filmed in central Oklahoma and used the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate - stars Molly C. Quinn, whose previous credits include “Castle” and “Doctor Sleep” and who serves as executive producer under her QWGmire production shingle, and Jake Horowitz, who stars in Oklahoma filmmaker Andrew Patterson's 2019 Toronto Film Festival standout "The Vast of Night." The horror film about a church investigation into a religious convent’s nuns also features Sean Gunn (“Guardians of the Galaxy”), Chris Browning (“Bright”), Rachel True (“The Craft”), Zandy Hartig (“Medical Police”) and Oklahoman Hayley McFarland (“The Conjuring”).
"Mostly, I want to hang on to whatever boogie board this is that's riding this wave and just keep it going," Snovel said with a laugh.
As previously reported, "Climate of the Hunter" played a special one-night-only OKC screening in August as part of arthouse theater Rodeo Cinema's second anniversary. But the planned December theatrical release will give more Oklahomans a chance to see Reece's latest and most acclaimed cinematic adventure.