Dominion (1995)


The last few films I have looked at have all been somewhat positive so I figured to balance things out I would look for something that really should be terrible and Dominion looked a lot like a contender for a load of old nonsense.

The film sees Brad Johnson, Tim Thomerson and a group of unfamiliar faces heading out on a hunting adventure in the mountains, however, there is a disgruntled hunter (Brion James) out there picking off the hunting parties organised by a particular company, run by Richard Riehle, one by one. When a second hunting party mistaken Johnston for the disgruntled hunter it leads to a seemingly never ending chase as Johnston chases James as James chases the hunting party who is chasing Johnston who is chasing James.

There is more than enough going on to keep the viewer engaged as James hams it up as he looms over an endless slew of victims. Thomerson proves to be the most engaging of the characters as the ease at which he unites the hunting party is remarkable, bantering, joking and single-handedly making the group feel like old friends. Thomerson also has a couple of engaging exposition scenes as he provides a compelling narration over flashbacks crucial to the plot. Giving these moments to Thomerson was inspired as they are charming and fun, thanks to the wit he brings to his character.

There is a strange disconnect between James’ scenes and the rest of the film, almost as if his scenes were filmed at different times, I even have a suspicion that James replaced another actor who might not have worked as well as James does. James is having great fun doing a Jason Voorhees without the need for a mask and he can be genuinely creepy. James’ character is fleshed out a little more as we see into his hideout as he pours over his memories beside a rather ropy cage that he inexplicably keeps one of the hunters in and frequently leaves unmonitored.

Dominion was filmed in the Malibu State Park and has some fantastic scenery, however, it fails to nail the expanse of the forest the characters are in. Characters stumble upon each other and can catch up with others quickly when needed, leaving the location to feel more like a small wood rather than sprawling forest. Some reports say footage was lifted from the Rutger Hauer flick Surviving the Game and Berenger’s awesome Sniper. I didn’t instantly recognise any reused footage as it blends quite well.

For the most part the script is formulaic with dialogue that is simple and functional, aside from Thomerson who may have improvised a lot of his lines or contributed additional dialogue. There is some pretty good pacing throughout. The film starts slowly building the camaraderie in the party whilst also the intrigue of what they are walking into. Once we get to it, the action is fairly exciting, especially a bridge sequence in the middle that admittedly resorts to some silly heroics in order to make the most of the location’s action potential. James’s character might be a survival badass, but he is a fucking awful shot!

The film felt like a cheap knock off of Shoot to Kill (or Deadly Pursuit) with Johnston fitting in as he really does cut a Tom Berenger-lite look. The budget limitations are mostly obvious in the opening scenes before the initial group of hunters head out. However, the film is crammed with ideas and never bores. It’s still not as engaging as Shoot to Kill or The Edge, but it’s still a valiant attempt.

So I expected nonsense and I got a fairly fun little thriller. It’s far from fab, but I wouldn’t say it’s one to avoid.

Dominion was released on video and only has one piece of artwork that sees modifications for its various releases. The three leads are quite different looking in the art so it must have been put together sometime after shooting was completed.

Dominion is available to rent or buy digitally from Amazon at the time of publishing in the UK. This is apparently “HD,” however, Amazon have trouble telling the difference between HD and a VHS quality copy.

There was a VHS and Laserdisc release, however, there seems to have only been a US release on DVD. I dare say the DVD was a transfer of the Laserdisc release.


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