Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 29 minutes, Director – Craig Zobel
12 strangers find themselves in the middle of nowhere as they are hunted down by people who they initially believed were just part of a conspiracy theory.
The Hunt was initially meant to be released six months ago, back in September of 2019, however after a number of mass shootings it was removed from release slates and seemingly pushed to the back of a shelf. Watching the film it seems like its depiction of gun violence, and hunting humans for sport, isn’t the only controversial element of it that caused it to be delayed. Much of the narrative is politically charged, centring on 12 innocent blue-collar strangers who find themselves being hunted down by what they see as the liberal elite a great deal of the dialogue revolves around these ideas of American politics. The feud between two completely opposite ends of the political spectrum.
The liberals are obsessed with making sure to always use the correct pronouns and politically correct terms, the diversity of the people who respond to them on Twitter and using right-wing politics against the people who believe in them, particularly the way that they seemingly view the second amendment (about the freedom to carry firearms). Meanwhile the central figures of the film are shown to be racist, conspiracy theory spreading and believing (one often claims about how he has a podcast in which he spoke about “the manor game” in which the characters find themselves a part of) and, as the liberal elites call them, “deplorable”. Throughout the entire run-time the film obsesses over trying to show an attempted hyperbolic view of both sides of an argument that never really properly starts, or finishes, in the film. And one of the biggest issues that comes from this is the fact that it seems to be played for laughs that are never really funny. The film never touches the lines of satire either, which could possibly help, but instead it just seems to try to be a politically charged horror-comedy that never properly takes flight.
Betty Gilpin leads the cast as tough fighter Crystal, labelled Snowball by the attackers. As those around her are rapidly killed off one by one she manages to survive and fight back, using her own skills and initiative to survive. While there are some decent moments of action, especially with Gilpin at the forefront the film seems to be too obsessed with showing the impact and gory detail of the immense bloodshed (while still remaining in the boundaries of a 15 rating, when some were expecting an 18, although still showing far more than Tarantino’s 18 rated Once Upon A Time In Hollywood) to actually focus on some fast-paced action, the brief glimpses that we do get of such are relatively good.
The film tries to show a pretty starry cast; including the likes of Emma Roberts, Ike Barinholtz and Hilary Swank, however none ever get the time to actually show a proper performance due to a limited amount of screen-time. While initially we begin to get some form of balance between characters in the first few minutes, however as everything vanishes and the rather thin “plot” begins to unveil there’s either constant jumping from character to character as if having a new lead and focus every five minutes until finally giving in and following Gilpin as she tries to work out who and what she can trust, if anything. Within this there could be some form of interest, but because of the personalities of stereotypical “redneck”/ Republican characters, as they are genuinely credited, ‘Don???’ (Wayne Duvall) and ‘(Shut The F**k Up) Gary’ (Ethan Suplee) again the film drags itself down by having to make literally everything political.
Yes, it could be said there there is some form of balance. Both sides are shown in a negative light with awful personalities. However, having to spend time with these horrible, overemphasised people, even if the film is only 89 minutes, just isn’t enough. The humour doesn’t land, the action doesn’t seem focused enough and overall the full entertainment value doesn’t come in. There are, admittedly, some moments that do manage to break in and create some slight enjoyment. But, those are soon broken by the same old formula.
Maybe the fact that the film seems to have worn its negative responses like a medal of honour, the poster for the new release of the film displayed many negative reviews and quotes saying how harsh and bloody the violence is alongside a quote saying “the most talked about film of the year is one that no one’s actually seen”. There could be something more to The Hunt if it had a few more layers and potentially a bit more of a deeper plot. However with it’s poor dialogue, character design and general idea there’s not a lot that can break through. While the action does show some promise it decides to focus too much on gore and blood rather than the action itself, apart from in one or two scenes which are the highlights of the film, to be overly worthwhile and satisfying. While it might entertain and amuse fans of frequent, intense full-blown bloody horror then this might entertain and engage, however this film certainly isn’t for everyone.
The Hunt’s hyperbolic political nature and dialogue isn’t it’s biggest problem, it’s jumpy nature and lack of detail also get in the way. While some action works there’s a lot that focuses too much that dwells on blood and gore rather than the action. This is a film for fans of high gore horror, but not a great deal of others.