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Hunter Hunter Ending Explained: The Surprising And Brutal Conclusion

Camille Sullivan and Summer H. Howell in Hunter Hunter

Hunter Hunter is one of those films that once you see it, the ending will haunt you for a while. With the Hunter Hunter ending, director Shawn Linden has added a very worthy entry into the traumatizing and disturbing film endings hall of fame.

Hunter Hunter stars Camille Sullivan, Devon Sawa, Summer H. Howell, and Nick Stahl. and follows a fur trapper Joseph “Joe” Mersault (Devon Sawa), his wife Anne (Camille Sullivan), and their daughter Renee (Summer H. Howell) as the danger of a wolf looms on their quiet wilderness life. Eventually, Anne and Renee find a wounded stranger, Lou (Nick Stahl), who they nurse back to health. The film is a cross between a survivalist movie and a horror flick. Even before the Hunter Hunter ending, Shawn Linden creates a strong narrative of a family trying to survive life in the wilderness while facing various dangerous obstacles. The Hunter Hunter ending horrifies but in a way that’s bound to delight horror movie fans.

Let's further explore that Hunter Hunter ending and its overall themes. Warning: Hunter Hunter ending spoilers ahead.

Camille Sullivan in Hunter Hunter

What Happened At The End Of Hunter Hunter?

Anne discovers Joe’s body and realizes that Lou likely killed him. She rushes back to her cabin to find Renee. Lou sees her rush in and attacks her. He manages to strangle Anne to the point where she passes out. Lou then starts to burn all his bedding, so that there is no trace of his DNA at the Mersault’s’ cabin.

Lou then turns his attention to Anne. He starts to rip off her clothes, while listening to his music. Anne manages to grab an animal trap from the floor and wounds Lou. She then knocks him out with another tool.

Meanwhile, Lucy (Lauren Cochrane) leads a team of police officers and dogs to the cabin. They follow a blood trail from the site of Lou’s murders to the cabin. They also see the smoke from Lou’s burning of the bedding.

Anne opens the door to another room, and the audience doesn’t see what Anne sees, but it’s assumed that she sees Renee’s dead body and whatever horrors Lou did to her before killing her. Anne snaps. She drags Lou’s body to the room where they gut and skin the animals. Anne takes out her tools and begins to skin Lou alive. She skins him from head to toe.

When Lucy and the police finally arrive, while covered in blood, Anne comes out holding the skin of Lou’s face. She slowly walks out. The cops enter the cabin to find Lou completely skinned and it seems like he hasn’t died just yet, as his body continues to move. Anne sits down to await her fate.

Devon Sawa and Summer H. Howell in Hunter Hunter

Who Died At The End Of Hunter Hunter?

When we reach the Hunter Hunter ending, the body count has reached a high number. Lou has killed at least four women (from the missing person posters in the police office). Then the dog Tova has died because of the wolf, and Joe and Renee are also dead. Lou may not have physically died yet but he’s definitely dying. It isn’t clear if Barthes (Gabriel Daniels) has died because we see his body on the ground from being severely wounded by the bear traps, but we don’t see him actually die.

It appears he’s dead because of the way the police officers surround him and how upset Lucy is by the end. Lucy and Anne seem to be the only important characters from Hunter Hunter who survive, but Anne is likely now dead inside.

Camille Sullivan as Anne in Hunter Hunter

Anne Mersault’s Hunter Journey

One of Hunter Hunter’s greatest strengths is that it sets up these expectations just to tear them down. Viewers start Hunter Hunter expecting Devon Sawa’s Joe to be the protagonist and hero of the movie, but in reality, he’s only in the film for the first 30 or so minutes. He is also not the hero because he continues to make choices that put Anne and Renee in danger, like keeping them in the dark about Lou being somewhere nearby.

The real protagonist of Hunter Hunter is Anne. We watch and follow Anne evolve and become a stronger hunter. Anne is never an incompetent hunter. She’s just not a ruthless hunter. The audience watches Anne learn new hunting techniques, like how to skin an animal, and by the end of Hunter Hunter, she has reached her breaking point and becomes as ruthless as Lou when killing. In an interview with Shockya, Shawn Linden shared more of his initial vision for Anne’s journey in the movie.

I really wanted to stress the idea that even though Anne is very physically capable in the beginning, she’s also quite meek and afraid of a lot of things, and dependent on her husband and the life he’s set up. That changes through the movie; she finds the strength she needs. Every time something changes, she adapts and does what needs to be done. That takes her all the way through her true transformation in the end.

In many ways, Anne was always the best hunter in the movie. Unlike Joe, she’s able to adapt and willing to do what’s necessary to protect her family. Unlike Renee, Anne is an adult, so she can be courageous when necessary, and unlike Lou, she hunts out of necessity, not for pleasure. All these attributes help her be a capable hunter and the sole survivor of the film.

Nick Stahl in Hunter Hunter

The Wolf In Hunter Hunter

There are multiple wolves in Hunter Hunter. There are one, possibly two actual wolves. We see the first one when Joe shoots at it, then finds Lou’s murder spot. We don’t know if Joe killed that wolf, but we later see another one that faces off against Anne and Renee, and ultimately kills Tova.

However, the greatest wolf threat in Hunter Hunter is Lou. The film begins as if it’s going to be a man vs nature film, but it becomes man vs man. Hunter Hunter at some points also feels like classic fairy tales, like Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs, Like with those fairy tales, you feel the threat of a wolf all throughout, just waiting for him to make his move, and when Lou shows up, you know the wolf is here to destroy their lives and home.

Even the film’s score makes sure to let you know Lou is a predator from the beginning, every time that he’s on-screen it reflects that he’s a danger. Composer Kevon Cronin told TVOverMind what Linden wanted to do with the movie’s sound.

When I first spoke with Shawn, the director, about the approach he wanted to take, he made it clear that one of the things he wanted to portray in the score is an ode to the predator.

Nick Stahl and Summer H. Howell in Hunter Hunter

Predator Vs Prey Dynamic In Hunter Hunter

All throughout Hunter Hunter Linden plays with the idea of predator vs prey in various forms. In an interview with LRM Online, he discusses how part of this film is about industrialization and how living in the woods isn’t that sustainable of a way to live, which presents the first conflict in Hunter Hunter. Anne wants to assimilate to the city but Joe wants to keep their current life.

Even when Anne and Renee seek help from Lucy and Barthes, they’re told they can’t be helped because of where they live. This life has made them more vulnerable to become prey. They’re also victims to the predatory nature of industrialization, it makes it harder for fur trappers and other similar occupations to survive because machines and modern technology make it harder for them to make a living.

In an interview with Coming Soon, Nick Stahl discussed Lou’s rituals to kill, like playing music while he murders. He also mentions that he believes Shawn Linden’s father had a career in forensic science, so he knows more than many about serial killers. Serial killers and vicious animals both have rituals when it comes to finding and killing their prey. The film even turns Lou into an animal right before he’s presumably about to rape Anne.

He smells her, beats his chest, and starts to paw at her. Then when Anne turns to the predator, she is void of any emotions, like an animal would be killing his prey. She also adapts Lou’s ritual of listening to music while killing.

Hunter Hunter is currently available to stream on VOD services. Stream it on Amazon here.

Jerrica Tisdale

Spent most of my life in various parts of Illinois, including attending college in Evanston. I have been a life long lover of pop culture, especially television, turned that passion into writing about all things entertainment related. When I'm not writing about pop culture, I can be found channeling Gordon Ramsay by kicking people out the kitchen.