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Film / Manhunt

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Manhunt is a 2019 Irish film, written and directed by Ian Adams in his sophomore effort after The Lads.

Seven childhood friends reunite to celebrate the birthday of one of their sons. A night of drinking and reminiscing ensues, and everyone goes to bed nostalgic.

The next morning, they wake up in the middle of a forest, and there's a masked man hunting them down one by one.

The full film can be watched here.

Not to be confused with the video game, nor the 2008 Norwegian horror Rovdyr, which was called Manhunt in English-speaking countries, or with the John Woo movie from 2017.



  • Actually Pretty Funny: The others tease Sarah for being promiscuous in her teen years. Michelle says "you were a bit of a slut" and she laughs in response.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: What Adam thinks made them end up in the woods. Tommy points out that it's a stretch to get drunk in the city centre and wake up in a forest that's an hour away at least.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Tommy, Sarah and Michelle were most active in keeping the secret from Eddie, but he also punishes Adam, Barry and Jono who knew but said nothing.
  • Ankle Drag: Sarah is dragged by the killer this way.
  • Asshole Victim: Everyone who dies was involved in the secret of Sean's parentage - Michelle is probably the most responsible after Tommy and Sarah, given that she convinced the latter to keep lying to Eddie (and overhearing this conversation is what kicked the plot off in the first place).
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  • At Least I Admit It: Michelle admits that she went after boys with money, but insists she liked them for who they were.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Barry jokes that getting married was the worst decision he ever made, though he and his wife do appear to be Slap-Slap-Kiss.
  • Backstory Horror: The opening shows Tommy as a child apparently having to kill his own father after the latter killed his mother. This is actually Eddie's flashback.
  • Bait-and-Switch: We're lead to believe the opening shows Tommy witnessing his mother's death and killing his father in retaliation. It however turns out to be Eddie this happened to, thus giving him a Freudian Excuse.
  • Beard of Sorrow:
    • Tommy's alcoholism and depression is marked with a mild beard.
    • If Barry is serious about his marriage being awful, that explains his long beard.
  • Berserk Button: Adam does not like being reminded of being a Dirty Coward.
  • Big Fancy House: Eddie and Sarah live in a very good house for twentysomethings with a young son to afford.
  • Bookends: The opening scene shows a boy following his mother dying of a stab wound, and ignoring her insistence to save himself. The last scene has Tommy dying of a stab wound, and his son Sean chooses to follow him and presumably watch him die.
  • Brutal Honesty: Neither Tommy nor Jono has much idea of the concept of 'tact'.
  • Cerebus Retcon:
    • The protagonists joke about a violent game they played as children called 'manhunt'. Naturally they end up in a real-life version shortly after.
    • Michelle is made fun of for being materialistic in her youth. It's arguably this that seals her fate - convincing Sarah to keep lying to Eddie in exchange for the comfortable lifestyle she's enjoying.
    • Sarah is the subject of light-hearted Slut-Shaming from the boys. Turns out she cheated on her husband and passed off the baby that resulted as his.
    • Adam is likewise mocked for being a coward whenever they got into fights in their youth. He leaves Michelle to die because he's too scared to help her.
  • The Chain of Harm: Eddie is dishing out revenge based on how he feels he's been harmed.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The night of the party, everyone is seen sharing a toast of wine. Eddie drugged it, allowing him to bring them to the woods.
    • Subverted with the phone Sarah sees the killer using. Although she gets it, she drops it when running from the site.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Sean, whose fifth birthday party is the focus of the first act, is the result of adultery between Sarah and Tommy - and Eddie is punishing everyone who knew.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Eddie and Sarah were part of the same friend group, and have since married. Michelle and Barry's spouses don't appear to be from the same group.
  • Childhood Friends: All the protagonists have known each other since their teen years at the earliest]].
  • Deuteragonist: With Tommy as the protagonist, Sarah fills this role, as the second most prominent cast member and something of The Lancer. She also has the most development out of the others.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: True to the trope's format, the first twenty minutes is spent establishing who these people are and how they know each other.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: Invoked by the killer, who traps the protagonists in the woods to make it easier to hunt them down.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Implied that Tommy does this regularly, if his first scene is anything to go by.
  • Dublin Skanger: Jono (the name should say it all) has a thick accent, dresses like he's spending the day drinking in the park and is the foul-mouthed The Friend Nobody Likes.
  • Dwindling Party: We start off with six and it ends in a Kill 'Em All situation.
  • Evil Orphan: Eddie, who is revealed to be an orphan shortly after he's revealed as the killer.
  • Fatal Family Photo:
    • The picture of the childhood friends gets a Call-Back towards the end for tragic purposes.
    • Likewise the picture of Sarah, Eddie and Sean together (which is also the film's thumbnail).
  • Final Girl: Sarah is the most moral out of the protagonists, and presented as the most wholesome character. It turns out she cheated on her husband, who's the killer and she ends up the last to die.
  • Freudian Excuse: Eddie's for the death game is that he was a traumatised child who had to grow up without his parents and had officially got his life together when he discovered Sarah and Tommy's dirty laundry.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Jono doesn't seem to be well-liked among his peers.
  • Gold Digger: Everyone teases Michelle about being this.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Sarah is the nicest of the protagonists, and of course is blonde.
  • Hangover Sensitivity: Each of the characters has some mild hangover symptoms. Barry is a little out of it, Sarah nearly vomits, Michelle is dehydrated and Tommy is especially irritable.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: When Sean is revealed, he's wearing a large pair of headphones, presumably blocking out the screams of everyone else in the woods.
  • The Hedonist: Adam's raison d'etre. He's introduced just back from a trip, and is planning to take another soon.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Eddie meets his end when Tommy impales his head on a spike sticking out of a nearby tree.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Sean is alive by the end, but he's alone in the woods with a man dying of a stab wound - so his chances are up in the air. Eddie did threaten to kill him but chose not to so he could use the boy to taunt Tommy.
  • Informed Flaw: Tommy is said multiple times to be an alcoholic. He drinks a little at the party, no more than any of the others, doesn't seem to have a problem holding his drink and displays no apparent withdrawals in the woods the next day. Apart from being irritable, which just seems to be his personality anyway.
  • Irony: Adam nags Tommy into going to the party, insisting he keep up appearances, and that he won't have to see anyone again for another few years. If he hadn't gone...
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite being a cowardly man whore, Adam does show plenty of redeeming qualities - like genuine care for his friends. In fact, encouraging Tommy to go to the party could be seen as an attempt to make his depressed friend feel better by socialising with their old pals.
  • Jerkass: Jono spends most of his screen time slut shaming Sarah or treating her like a servant in her own house.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Jono is found hanging from a tree, and the killer rubs the rope with oil to make it impossible for anyone rescue him.
  • Kubrick Stare: Tommy is fond of tossing these to most of the characters.
  • Liar Revealed: An immediate example. Sarah lets Adam lie about trying to save Michelle, and then busts him for it.
  • The Load: Michelle at one point stops, sits down and says she won't go anywhere else without a drink. Tommy rightly points out that, as there's no sign of water nearby, she doesn't have much hope of getting that wish.
  • Male Gaze: Sarah's first scene has a shot where she's only shown from the waist down, allowing the viewer to experience how tight those jeans are.
  • Malevolent Masked Man: The killer wears a black mask to hide his or her identity. Sarah is able to guess that something is wrong when she sees them from afar, even though she doesn't know anyone's been killed yet.
  • Mama Bear: Sarah is determined to escape the woods and get home to her son.
  • Meaningful Name: As it turns out 'Pearce' is a meaningful last name for someone who ends up stabbing a lot of people.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The opening shows a boy trying to flee a serial killer, only to kill him after his mother succumbs to her wounds. This was Eddie's past, not Tommy's.
  • Missing Mom: The prologue shows the little boy's mother dying in front of him.
  • Nasty Party: After Sean's birthday party, the protagonists wake up in the middle of the forest having been drugged and kidnapped.
  • One Dose Fits All: Subverted. People regain consciousness at different times in the woods. Tommy and Adam wake up first, and it looks like Michelle has been awake for longer. Tommy and Sarah are even able to have a brief conversation before they pass out.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Minor example. Tommy is still alive when the credits roll, but with a nasty stab wound that all but guarantees his death before he can get to safety.
  • Pet the Dog: When they find Jono hanging, Adam immediately pulls Michelle into a hug so she doesn't have to see it.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Most of Barry's dialogue is wisecracking.
  • Red Herring: Sarah sees a second person in the tent and assumes there are two killers. There's just one and the second person is her son.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Adam overcomes his cowardice and saves Sarah from the killer, which results in his death. With his last words, he tells Tommy that there's a second person in the tent.
  • Rewatch Bonus:
    • Adam is understanding of Tommy not wanting to go with the party since he knows about Sean as well.
    • Adam arrives at the party seemingly not realising it was a birthday party for Sean. Of course Eddie probably didn't tell him this to make sure he'd still come.
    • Eddie proudly announcing his son's name to Michelle "little Sean Pearce", right in front of Tommy as well. Retroactively becomes him rubbing Tommy's actions in his face and Michelle's complicity.
    • It's also Eddie who suggests that Tommy and Adam stay the night on the couch.
  • Self-Made Orphan: The boy in the prologue murders what's implied to be his father after watching his mother die.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: Each of the characters correspond to one of them.
    • Michelle is Greed, since she's materialistic and convinced Sarah to lie to Eddie for her own comfort.
    • Sarah is Lust as she cheated on her husband and was said to be promiscuous in her youth.
    • Jono is Gluttony, what with him being a hard drinker. This presumably makes it easier to kill him first, as he's so hung over.
    • Barry is Sloth, as he's in a marriage he hates but doesn't get out of, and doesn't take the forest seriously enough. This locks him as the second victim because he wanders off without a thought to the situation.
    • Tommy is Envy, since he slept with his best friend's wife and seems to envy everyone else's more prosperous lives.
    • Adam is Pride, since as a coward, he only cares about himself.
    • Eddie the killer is Wrath, as he's motivated by punishing people for knowing about an affair.
  • Shout-Out: Shameless Hard-Drinking Party Girl called Michelle who happens to be Northern Irish? Hmm... She even
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Jono and Barry, the two comic relief characters, are the first to die.
  • Sickening "Crunch!": One character falls out of a tree and this is heard. Sure enough, it results in a nasty broken bone.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Mortality: The list of victims in order - Jono (Jerkass who repeatedly slut shames the killer's wife and treats her like a servant at her own party), Barry (Plucky Comic Relief in a less nasty way), Michelle (superficial ditz whose materialism partly caused the whole plot), Adam (slightly cowardly best friend with some redeeming qualities), Sarah (Nice Girl who was unfaithful and raised the resulting child as husband's own), Tommy (protagonist but far from sympathetic).
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Used for dramatic effect. After waking up in the woods after a night of drinking, Michelle is hung-over, realistically dehydrated and needs to rest after walking too much.
  • Taking You with Me: Although he's stabbed by Eddie, Tommy is still able to kill him before he succumbs to his wounds.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Eddie drugged the wine the night before to knock everyone out.
  • Title Drop: Manhunt was a game they played as children.
  • Two Girls to a Team: Barry's wife is spared the titular manhunt, so Sarah and Michelle are the only females involved. This is in a group of six.
  • Unexplained Accent: Michelle is the only Northern Irish member of the friend group, who appear to be south Dubliners. Presumably she grew up in the same area and didn't lose the accent.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Michelle's boyfriend and Barry's wife are not included in the main plot, with no confirmation over their fates. Given how Eddie likely drugged them too, what he did to them is entirely up in the air.
  • Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: Adam impulsively socks Sarah during an intense argument between them.