There’s a promising scene that kicks off the Syfy series Hunters, where an idyllic farmhouse sits bathed in light, and viewers are treated unexpectedly to the sounds of the Orchestral Manoeuvres in The Dark’s “Maid of New Orleans.” There are a few rabbits in hutches, and then comes the realization that one small hutch is in fact inhabited by a shivering, naked woman. I’m not usually a fan of series that start out with dehumanized women in rabbit hutches, but Julian McMahon’s clearly deranged villain sits nearby, in an ocean of New Wave, smiling. It’s a good hook, and makes one hopeful that this isn’t going to be another show about a secret government organization hunting down echoey, clicking aliens in the dark using sonic weapons.
But, it is. And sadly, nothing that follows that intriguing opening manages to be half as interesting; a generic tone permeates the show. It’s especially disappointing after the fun and unique start to Syfy’s other recent series, Wynonna Earp, and also because Hunters comes from The Walking Dead‘s Gale Anne Hurd and 12 Monkeys‘ Natalie Chaidez.
Hunters is the story of a decorated former soldier turned FBI agent, Flynn Carroll (Nathan Philips), whose wife Abby (Laura Gordon) is mysteriously kidnapped one afternoon. In fairly short order, Flynn discovers what viewers and a special government unit focused on exo-terrorism already know: that Abby has been snatched up by an alien (known as a Hunter) who appear human, but are working to destroy the people of Earth. Of course.
There’s a little bit of a pod people vibe to the Hunters, led by Julian McMahon’s shadowy figure McCarthy, but McMahon’s magnetic charisma isn’t a trait shared by anyone else in the cast, and it makes one start rooting for the monsters. Peppering the rest of the story is an assortment of other agents, including the hard-lined Briggs (Mark Coles Smith) and the tough Regan (Britne Oldford), who is herself a danger. And while the bog-standard sci-fi setup doesn’t have to be boring, clunky dialogue and an uninspired visual style seal its fate, despite McMahon’s best efforts.
Die-hard sci-fi fans may find a few things to like about the series, as Hunters provides a few light mysteries, like why the aliens have targeted Abby, if there’s a mole in the exo-terrorist unit, and the truth about Flynn’s past in the military. But for casual viewers or those looking for something new, these few plot strands are still not nearly enough to stay invested (and the less said about attempted parallels to current fears of international terrorism the better). Syfy has been rolling out a great deal of new and largely unique content recently (including the bizarre Dead 7 movie, the Childhood’s End miniseries, and the aforementioned Wynonna Earp), but unfortunately, Hunters doesn’t belong in that new wave.
Rating: ★ Forgettable — Give McMahon a better vehicle.
Hunters premieres Monday, April 11th on Syfy.