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An Eerie Journey Through Illinois' Heartland

Hunting for the Hag


Genre: Horror
Year Released: 2024
Runtime: 1h 25m
Director(s): Paul A. Brooks
Writer(s): Paul A. Brooks, Sierra Renfro
Cast: Jasmine Williams, Sierra Renfro, Alexa Maris, Paul A. Brooks, Thomas A. Jackson, Nora McKirdie, Steve Christopher, Daniel Roebuck, Nathan Brandon Gaik
Where To Watch: released on multiple streaming platforms and cable systems throughout the US and Canada on April 2, 2024 (with a DVD/Blu-ray release hopefully coming soon!)

RAVING REVIEW: HUNTING FOR THE HAG ushers us into the eerie woods of Illinois, presenting a thrilling and menacing tale. The film was directed by Paul A. Brooks and co-written by one of the stars, Sierra Renfro, it creates a cinematic journey that straddles the line between the fear of the unknown and the fascinating allure of age-old myths. Full transparency: I live in Central Illinois, and I can count on one hand the number of films that bring up the area, let alone within the first few minutes of the film. Sure, many movies take place in Chicago, but that’s worlds away from the middle of the state! It was nice to feel that connection with the film, so maybe I was a little biased, but I had a blast with it.

The core of HUNTING FOR THE HAG is embodied by our trio of Tara (Jasmine Williams), Candy (Sierra Renfro), and Beth (Alexa Maris), who venture deeper than any casual hiker should dare into the mystery and wilderness in search of the elusive Hawthorne Hag. Their aim to document the elusive mystery quickly evolves from a high-spirited escapade into a dire fight for survival, pushing the boundaries of traditional found-footage horror and documentary filmmaking. Renfro steals the scene with fantastic comedic timing and a genuinely chilling performance. While the entire cast did a great job, her performance felt like the core.

Brooks ambitiously challenges genre conventions, weaving unexpected twists into the story's fabric. This journey stands apart from typical found-footage tales thanks to its engaging plot, rich atmosphere (which I won’t lie, I was wishing would have a little more “Central Illinois” to it than just the cornfield scene, lol), and cast that adds depth and authenticity to the story. The film transcends genre clichés, offering a unique and immersive viewing experience.

Central to the plot is the sinister legend of the Hawthorne Hag, a narrative thread that infuses the film with a mix of historical intrigue and supernatural dread. Brooks pays homage to classic storytelling while carving out a distinct identity for HUNTING FOR THE HAG. By favoring psychological tension over visceral horror, the movie avoids my number one sin, always “showing the scary.” When it does, it does so perfectly (twice? Kind of?)

Brooks shares his transition from crafting short films to helming this ambitious feature, revealing his passion for the art and the power of teamwork. The strong bond formed among the lead actresses off-camera magnifies their on-screen chemistry, underscoring the film’s themes of unity and determination in the face of otherworldly dangers. This is all shown on screen. Honestly, this feels every bit the passion project that it is! Ironically, it works so well sometimes that I was noticeably upset with the film's “antagonists” and their acting towards our protagonists!

HUNTING FOR THE HAG is a tribute to the art of storytelling and collective creativity. Brooks and his talented team invite viewers on an expedition where folklore bleeds into reality, providing a narrative that is profoundly humane and all too chilling. This film beckons those brave enough to explore the dark corners of the Midwest, offering insights into the resilience of the human spirit and the strength found in camaraderie. So, gather your bravest friends for this journey, but leave the lights on.

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Chris Jones
Entertainment Editor

Chris Jones is the Mail Entertainment Editor covering Movies and Television topics. He is from Washington, Illinois, and is the owner, writer, and editor of Overly Honest Reviews.