After being unceremoniously dumped from Universal’s
release schedule last year following a series of mass shootings in the US, Craig
Zobel’s entertaining horror-comedy The
Hunt will finally get in front of audiences to be judged on its own merits,
free from the out-of-context “bad taste” hot takes the studio’s publicity team
no doubt feared. Now the film is being released, it appears its underlying
message of understanding over partisanship is not one that would, to quote
President Trump on Twitter, “inflame and cause chaos”, because it comes off a
bit too half-baked to cause too much consternation.
Hunt begins with a plane load of billionaires heading
on some mysterious hunting trip and the tone is immediately set by an OTT
display of comic ultraviolence. Then the film jumps to a collection of
disparate folks waking up in a forest with gags padlocked to their mouths. The
rag-tag group of would-be victims are attacked and it becomes very clear to all
involved that they are being hunted for sport by the same rich psychos from the
cold open. Enter Final Girl-in-the-making Crystal (Betty Gilpin) an unassuming
young woman who turns out to be more than capable of giving these wealthy
homicidal maniacs a run for their money.
Hunt is another entry in Blumhouse’s burgeoning
horror sub-genre of “elite-sploitation” (for want of a better phrase) in the
vein of Get Out and The Purge series,where
unsuspecting protagonists are set upon by a cabal of wealthy elites and their
nefarious machinations. These films have a lineage that can be tracked back to 1932
with Irving Pichel and Ernest B. Schoedsack’s The Most Dangerous Game,
and even later iterations such as Ernest Dickerson’s ‘90s actioner Surviving the Game (starring Ice-T and
Rutger Hauer, its mint). That these films are having a moment right now is a
reflection of the current political climate and the clear divisions between the
left and the right, the rich and the poor, that plays out viciously in the
media and manifests in the us-versus-them dichotomy of the characters in the film.
Director Zobel and writers Nick Cuse and
Damon Lindelof press their tongue firmly in their cheeks as they portray both
murderers and victims as two sides of the same coin. The hunters are actually
wealthy liberals who decide to take action against a group of boorish
opinionated Republicans who believe in and propagate conspiracy theories about
the left. While both sides represent what is worst about humanity, they also
clearly showcase how, when we let pettiness obscure understanding, it gives
rise to our nastiest selves. However, this approach has the effect of the
filmmakers wanting to have their cake and eat it too and comes off as a
half-hearted attempt to push buttons (one wonders what someone like Bobcat
Goldthwait would have done with this same material). Even its jokes about Trump
and fake news, which in the world of social media is still an issue, already
The performances are all fairly
entertaining, but none of the characters stick around long enough to have too
much of an impact. The villains get to exercise peak smarminess, especially
Glenn Howerton who seems to be riffing a lot on his Dennis from Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia schtick
these days. But Betty Gilpin (GLOW) is
terrific as Crystal, the kick-ass heroine who becomes more than a match for her
aggressors and proving game for every punch and punchline the film wants to
throw at her. There is also a final act appearance by an Oscar-winner, playing
very much against type, who partakes in a bone-crunching fist fight with Gilpin
that is almost worth the price of admission alone.
As a horror-comedy, The Hunt is suitably broad and over the top in its violence; eyes
are gouged, faces are shot off, bodies are pulverised. This translates to the
effect of its satire, too. Nothing here is subtle, which is not a deal breaker,
but the concerns the filmmakers built into the narrative feel a bit played out.
Even if released on schedule, it feels like the film is reinforcing old
arguments. It essentially takes the same premise as Get Out and decides to play it all for laughs but avoids deepening
or refreshing the themes. At a brisk 90 minutes The Hunt is still an entertaining ride and real midnight movie
material for horror fans, even if it doesn’t quite stick the landing.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.