One of the joys of streaming services like Netflix, Prime, etc is that “Customers also watched” or “like this” section.  Those buttons can lead you down a rabbit hole of great depth and bring you to films that you might never have even heard of otherwise. Sometimes it terminates with a rewarding experience , sometimes it doesn't

Obligatory spoiler warning.

Recently, it led me to Callibre a 2018 film  written and directed by Matt Plamer.  The description was some vague verbiage about something bad happening on a hunting trip and I assumed that it would be one of:

 a. Deliverance knock off, or
 b. Most Dangerous Game knock off, or
 c. a monster movie.

It really isn’t quite any of those things.

The set-up is: two boarding-school chums go the the Scottish Highlands to kill a deer for some reason. One likes to shoot furry animals, the other does not.  Marcus and Vaughn are their names. 

 Vaughn seems a gentle sort and we get to meet his pretty fiancé who is newly preggers. That he’s a soon to be father will inform a lot of his character.

Marcus is a standard type of toxic masculinity mixed with rich guy dickishness. He has a serious soft spot for Vaughn and wants to protect him.

Upon arriving in the village they of course visit the pub. Getting very drunk and staying up very late is probably a great idea when you plan to get up early in the morning and shoot guns.  I bet that kind of thinking has never gone badly for anyone.  Marcus hooks up with a local woman and they spend the night together.

Marcus and Vaughn then traipse into the woods in search of Bambi or his mom.  Vaughn, as we’ve been reminded, is an inexperienced hunter. He attempts to kill a deer, but instead manages to shoot a small boy square in the forehead.  This isn’t an exactly unexpected turn of events.

The boy’s father shows up, and Marcus murders the fuck out of him immediately.

Marcus, not exactly a tactical genius, comes up with a plan. The plan is this: They push the bodies a few feet from where they fell, then drive a few miles away and wander around in a different section of woods, then go buy gas and tell the station attendant that they are hunting all day, then go back to the pub and have dinner with locals, then drive back to the murder scene and do a slapdash job of burying the bodies right there, then load lots of bloody items and the murder weapons into their vehicle then go to bed! Brilliant in every way! They also plan to dump the murder weapons, bloody clothes, etc in some unspecified place when they leave the next morning.  That part of the plan will run into something of a snag.

They end up having dinner with Logan, a local guy who seems to maybe be in charge of the town somehow.

AS they prepare to leave they find that their tires are slashed and an angry mob has formed. This isn’t actually related to the murders or anything. It turns out that the woman Marcus slept with was the daughter of a guy with weird friends. Literally, Marcus gets beat up and his car attacked by a guy who is angry that the adult daughter of his buddy had consensual sex with an adult man.  What is even going on in this town?  Why are they like this?

Anyway, the boys have to wait for their car to be fixed and decide to hangout in the pub where they learn that Logan’s nephew is missing. He had gone camping with his father and should have returned the previous night.

The boys get invited to help in the search, and for some reason say yes.

The dogs find the bodies. They were not well buried at all. The boys try to flee. That doesn’t work. The townspeople make Vaughn kill Marcus. The login here is tough to follow. They want to kill both Vaughn and Marcus, but believe that they will be caught and sent to prison. They don’t want to call the police because they somehow think that there isn’t any evidence that the boys did the murders. So, the solution is to make one of them kill the other.

And everyone learns a lesson about . . . something I guess? Maybe? Insufficient data.

The thing about this movie is that it’s flaws are not obvious, I guess. The actors all do a marvelous job. Everyone is giving it their all and we believe that these are real people. The film is well paced, it never lags. It looks great. The Scottish woods and the village are lovely. The editing works. The music is unobtrusive and on point. It’s just that all of the characters behave in ways that don’t make any sense at all.

I don’t want to call it bad writing, because it isn’t bad in the traditional sense. This is a well structured script. The dialogue is fine and realistic. Everything that happens seems like what would happen if these people behaved in these ways. It’s just that I keep wondering what kind of brain damage everyone has that causes them to make the choices that they make.  My misgivings really started when I realized that Vaughn was trying to shoot a deer in the head with a .22. I’m not an expert, but even I know that hunters go for the heart/lung shot with a larger caliber rifle. A .22 is very likely to would a deer and not kill it and you will miss a headshot every time.  It didn’t improve from there.

I’m not telling you not to watch Calibre. It’s enjoyable. Just be ready to second guess every choice the characters make.