When it was announced that moody 19th century horror-shooter Hunt: Showdown was being turned into a TV series, my mind stirred with questions, my heart fluttered with hope (though that could just be the poison bees trying to burst out of my ribcage). How would they bring this game's mysterious mythos to life?
Hunt: Showdown's vision of the Louisiana hinterlands circa 1890, ravaged by a mysterious plague that mutates people into all kinds of horrors, is one of the most atmospheric settings in videogames. It's a forlorn place where bounty hunters in search of lucrative supernatural spoils descend on a zone filled with zombies, water beasts and bloated butchers wearing pig heads.
All lore in the game is gleaned from monster descriptions and diary entries, and even many of those pretty much say 'we don't know what the hell went wrong here.' There's a lot left to the imagination, which could be wonderful in the right filmmaking hands, or disastrous in the wrong ones.
But after a chat with the show's Executive Producer Pascal Tonecker, I have some assurances that the creators are on the right track, at least in terms of the kind of horror the show will look to harness. “We want to create something that evokes atmosphere,” Tonecker tells me. “No jump-scare horror scenarios, it will be about the atmosphere that Hunt is already delivering in the game—very dense, very frightening.”
The director chosen for the project can't be revealed yet, but Tonecker says “he has a very good reputation for creating some features and TV series in the horror genre.” For reference, the creators are looking at shows like The Alienist and Penny Dreadful, both of which are period dramas with a psychological noir tone hanging over all those dandy costumes. He also points to the crackling soundscapes and unseen horrors of the Blair Witch Project as an inspiration.
The Louisiana swamps, farmsteads and abandoned mining towns of Hunt: Showdown are crucial to its unique atmosphere. Tonecker tells me that the show will “shoot on location as much as possible, and try to avoid studio shooting because we believe that this show will live from real-life props.”
Beyond that, like the lore of Hunt itself, the show is swirling in mystery, and will remain so until next year. While I'm hoping for body-horror-inducing monsters and slow, patient pacing (The Thing meets Deadwood—is that too much to ask?), I won't begrudge them leaving out the cravenly shotgun campers like me.