You know that something is up with a movie when mass shootings postpone its release. The Hunt premiered on March 13, 2020 (Friday the 13th) amidst the coronavirus pandemic, without almost any theater screenings. The reason why it was postponed is its subject of humans hunting humans, a theme that has been around for more than you would guess. I remember watching Surviving the Game (1994) with Ice-T, Rutger Hauer and Gary Busey back in the nineties and thinking to myself what the actual fuck!? This sub-genre has been around for almost a century and there have been many great entries during that time. Surely, the most popular ones are The Hunger Games franchise and Battle Royal, with Deliverance from 1972 coming in at the third place. Honorable mentions include Running Man, that’s more of a game show movie and nineties extravaganza starring JCVD called Hard Target. And I certainly did not forget about Running Man, one of the cult classics.
Directed by Craig Zobel, a man who was behind one of the most awkward and intense movies I have ever seen, Compliance, The Hunt is a great action movie with an interesting story that feels a bit disjointed. I loved the brutal action and great practical effects with blood squirting all over the screen. Everything seemed very well choreographed and engaging, especially since the movie just keeps surprising you and pulling the rug under your wobbly feet. However, all these gimmicks kept increasing the expectations and once the story started unraveling, I had really big expectations that were only partially met. Acting was phenomenal, with strong performances from Betty Gilpin and Wayne Duvall. And it was nice to see Ethan Suplee since he lost all that weight. Looking real good buddy, keep it up!
12 people wake up in the middle of a forest, gagged, groggy and without memory of how they got there. Soon they notice a clearing and in the middle of it a big wooden crate. Once opened, the crate reveals a huge arsenal of weapons and this is the time that the bullets start flying…
With a healthy dose of humor and a very vibrant atmosphere, The Hunt is a fun movie to watch. It looks very sleek and expensive although the budget was just $14 million. In this new “woke” age where “strong” and “independent” female characters are being shoved down our throats, The Hunt seamlessly showed the rest of the filmmakers how this shit is done. Only in the last fifteen minutes of the movie I figured out that my favorite characters are actually of the female gender! The plot revolves around the divide between republicans and democrats, pitting the worst of both sides against each other. This gave the viewer the opportunity to equally hate and ridicule both sides of the aisle while comfortably remaining in the observer role. And while I do adore movies that are mindlessly entertaining, where this movie certainly can belong, we live in times where this type of distancing while using political satire to prop up your story seems disingenuous. If they have downplayed that side, I would give this movie a solid 9, instead of wobbly 7.
The thing that broke the movie, in my opinion, is the unwillingness to go to the end of the analysis. Sure, most of the population are idiots and these idiots are not exclusive to either side, but we already knew that. By exploring these subjects, the movie rises above them, creating a new level which can also be used to divide people. It fails to establish a coherent narrative and resorts to using a handful of concepts to make a semblance of a story. Too bad, this was a phenomenal opportunity to rain down hell on all of the idiots who simply refuse to think and take responsibility. Finally, The Hunt could disgust politics for many of its viewers which is an especially dangerous thing that would leave us in the hands of tribal leaders looking out only for themselves. Not to kid ourselves, the situation isn’t better today, but that’s a different story.
Fun Facts: It was believed the film was originally going to be called “Red State vs Blue State,” but this was later denied by Universal, who stated it was never a working title anytime during production.