One of the pleasures of being a critic is discovering a filmmaker you not only admire but know will be a force in the years to come.
Such is the case with Zack Wilcox, director of the icy, intense and well-made neo-noir “Hunting Lands.”
Wilcox takes his cues from the Coen Brothers and Hitchcock with this voyeuristic thriller about reclusive ex-war vet Frank Olsen (Santa Rosa’s Marshall Cook) stumbling upon the dumping of a woman’s body. Olsen succumbs to his old ways, observing and inviting into his lair the man who did the dirty deed. It’s a “Fargo”-like experience.
While “Lands” slips a bit in its final act, it is — for the most part — a mesmerizing, bracing feature set in the frozen, isolated upper area of Michigan. The first 15 minutes are wordless and wave a distinctive spell.
“Lands” plays tonight at Cinequest. It is one of the best films I’ve seen in the festival.
(Show sat 5:50 p.m. Saturday, March 3 at the Century 20 Redwood City, Screen 11
,627, 825 Middlefield Road, Redwood City, and 6:15 p.m., March 5 at the Century 20 Redwood City, Screen 18, 627, 825 Middlefield Road, Redwood City; 5 p.m., March 7, California Theatre San Jose 345 S 1st St, San Jose; 7:35 p.m., March 10 , 3 Below Theaters & Lounge, 288 S 2nd St., San Jose.)
For tickets, visit https://www.cinequest.org/tickets-passes
Randy Myers is a freelance film journalist and is the president of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle.