In Michael Venus’s music video for “The Hunt,” a woman (Katja Danowski) blanched and polyestered by life is haunted by the band Parasite Single, two outfit-coordinated hipster angels, who call to her and torment her with their pop song and provoke her to the possibility of something other than her sweat-pant suit life.
From the first shot in the furniture store we are in an uncomfortable space: the angles askew, florescent lights running to the left of the frame into the distance, their static hum scratching our ear drums, the woman’s prone body running from the centre off to the right. She’s wearing a yellow sweatsuit, but this is yellow drained of any allusion to lemons, sunshine, or fluffy baby chickens. This is yellow defined by the absence of yellow.
Sidebar: I don’t think mattress merchants as professionals are prepared for the intimacy and vulnerability of people going prone. They should have to have some training or certification to prepare for this burden.
In the second awkward shot, a foot’s eye view, we look up the length of the woman, up her nose, and along her arm outstretched, spanning the empty side of the bed to the right of the frame. Either she sleeps like a horizontal crucified Christ each night, board straight and perpendicular, or perhaps her arm and that space of empty bed signify something.
Then, in an insert shot, we see her fingers fumbling with the mattress’s plastic cover, trying to get past the plastic or pondering the empty space that is the other side of the bed to her. Her eyes close slowly in pained longing as the plastic cover crinkles in deaf response and we see that the back corner of this cold furniture store is reserved for longing.
Venus composes each of the first shots with awkward angles, plays with empty space and underscores the sequence with a minimalist sound design, just crinkling plastic and the buzz of the lights, all to emphasize this woman’s loneliness and isolation before the hipster angels’ music begins.
The musical duo proceed to plague and torment polyester woman in various locales: the furniture store, her work at a car garage, the grocery store and a laundromat. In what follows there are three small moments that define her journey: the sack of unshelled peanuts, the discarding of the shopping cart, and when she mimics the band.
The first moment is just after her second sighting of the band, in her office at work: she escapes outside where she sits on a potted palm, shelling and eating peanuts from a sack slight desperation.
Sidebar: unshelled peanuts must be the unofficial snack for depressed polyester wearers. It explains why country and western bars are littered with their remains.
Sidebar to the sidebar: unshelled pistachios, on the other hand, are too coy, salty smooth, and hard shelled to every get caught in a country and western bar, though they have, undoubtedly, seen it all before.
The second moment is when she sees the band in the grocery store and, not so coincidentally the word “love” on a cake decorating box. Here she breaks, shoving the grocery cart away from herself.
Then, around the 1:47 mark when the hipster angels take a break for coffee in the laundromat, polyester woman has had enough and she picks up their instruments and mockingly pretends to play with the same hipster joy they do. It’s a tiny moment and if you blink you’ll miss it, but it foreshadows the angry catharsis to come.
These three small moments define this character, her resistance to the gaudy coloured pop angels that are pressuring her to break out of her drab life.
So when catharsis comes for her, after the hair salon and dressing up, in a bar full of gambling machines, angry, glorious dancing is the answer. In a nice turn, the strobed shots draw her in to the same frame as the hipster angels, showing us they were part of her all along; they are connected. Moreover, Venus places her in the centre of the frame, positions her as their lead singer, their missing piece.
She is, however, not done. In the last shot, ragged and sweaty from her angry dancing, she stands in profile, then turns her head and looks at the camera, a mix of defiance and Teflon: if at any point we, as audience, lacked compassion or took amusement from her journey, here she wins, and its her victory not ours.
Over at the site Director’s Notes, there’s an interview with Venus where you can read more about his work with Curtisfilm and about how they shot the film. If your German is better than mine you can consider supporting the band and their future creative endeavours through their crowdsourcing campaign.
– R. W. Gray