Review: THE HUNT, Satirical Action Thriller Takes Aim at Divisive America
Betty Gilpin stars in an entertaining action-thriller, directed by Craig Zobel.
Complete strangers wake up in a clearing, with fetish horse bits strapped to their mouths. In the center of the clearing is a large crate. After they open it all hell breaks loose and they soon realize that they are all unwilling participants in The Hunt.
It's not hard to talk about The Hunt thematically because that is what got us here in the first place, but let us start off with the practical. Boiled down to its bare bones The Hunt is an entertaining action thriller, with gut ripping acts of violence, topped off with a layer of sarcasm and dark humor. I was pleasantly surprised by how entertaining The Hunt is.
I wondered as it began if there was a nod to the cult favorite Battle Royale at the beginning when it too starts with a stirring symphonic score. Also I could not help but be reminded of John Gulager`s Feast and it's nobody's safe, don't get attached opening volley, once the contents of the crate are revealed. Faster than you can say, "Oh. That's whatshisname. From that sho-ooooooooooh goddamn!!!"
Betty Gilpin shines as Crystal, the one deplorable the hunters did not count on being so adept at fighting back. Like Sharni Vinson in You're Next, Betty Gilpin's Crystal proves to be more than equal to the task. Perhaps she is a little unhinged - little smirks and squeaks suggest so - but from the get-go you know here is someone who knows a bit more than the average bear. Gilpin is truly excellent in this movie.
The work of the stunt coordinators Heidi Moneymaker and Hank Amos really shines at the end of The Hunt with an excellent melee. Director Craig Zobel, together with the coordinators and camera crew do a really excellent job with that final face off, building off of terrific transitions creating a real sense of flow that is easy to follow. And a tip of the hit to the effects team and the great work on the blood and gore. Superb work everyone!
What The Hunt also turns out to be is a satirical stab at the venomous current in online culture. While it takes aim at those who shoot from the hip Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof fearlessly and humorously pick on both sides. Characters, deplorables and liberals alike, are painted in broad strokes. You have your Florida Man, your Alex Jones wannabee conspiracy theorist, the stay at home SJW, to high powered executives who are used to having it their way until online angry mob justice comes knocking with their virtual pitchforks and torches.
The human-hunting and survivor-thriller genre has been around for a few decades now, just never one pointed in the direction The Hunt has chosen. It's a modern version of a classic survivor-thriller like Turkey Shoot, where the classics almost always featured a tyrannical conservative power that came down on variations of progressives, 'lib-tards' and other deviants. As we're in charge of the medium with The Hunt we've shot a volley back at the conservative right and it has taken exception to it. However, they need not be so riled up about it.
It would be simpler to say that those without a sense of humor and irony need not apply, but one way to look at The Hunt is that it is more so for those who railed and rallied against it in the first place. Not without its shots at spray and pray commentators, still, when it comes to us against them, we the 99%, we're all on the same page there.
But it also takes aim at the 1%, no one is left out the commentary the movie makes. We have these elites who control everything and everyone around them but they still cannot pull off The Hunt with some outside help. It takes jabs at PC culture, the snowflakes, the overly sensitive folks who recoil at even the most minuscule indiscretions. Then, despite all their higher-than-thou attitudes, it is their own oversight that gets them more than they bargained for when Crystal comes after them.
The Hunt is more than the merits of the film, which are great acts of violence against everyone, a surprising amount of snark and sarcasm that also hits its mark, and a hero the trolls probably never considered would come out of this film. As you watch The Hunt, hopefully the irony will not be lost on viewers how we got here; that online outrage is what got this film pushed back in the first place. The instant notoriety will only help The Hunt make more than its modest budget. Everyone wanted to see The Hunt and it became one of the most talked about movies no one had seen yet.
When word of mouth gets out that The Hunt is actually pretty good, an entertaining and funny survivor-thriller swipe at Twitter America, that gives the Left a hero they want, maybe everyone can put their laptops and microphones away for even a moment and together we can have a bit of fun. It will not heal the rift that partisan politics have created but in these divisive times is it not okay to have a bit of reprieve now and again?