We live in an age where social media dictates our lives, our emotions and our consumption of information – an unhealthy combination when put like that. The capabilities of the internet have created “keyboard warriors”: people who direct hateful language towards others without the requirement of staring their victim in the face. The action thriller The Hunt tries to tackle this modern issue, but it dresses it in a feisty, bloody, explosive depiction of carnage, picking fun at the problem in a most peculiar fashion.
The movie was originally pulled from its slated release in September 2019 after the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio that summer. The picture descended even further into disrepute amongst the hard right in the United States when the plot was unearthed a little more. This proved enough for Universal Studios to pull the plug until it was resurrected to be presented as a more satirical take on modern-day norms and phrases. The Hunt was, for better or for worse, revived for our viewing pleasure.
Taking inspiration from Richard Connell’s 1924 novel The Most Dangerous Game, The Hunt sees 12 complete strangers wake up gagged and frightened in an unknown location with absolutely no idea of how they got there. A large wooden crate sits in the centre of a field, holding their fate inside. The moment it is opened the game begins, and whether they like it or not, they must run for their lives. Crystal (Betty Gilpin) falls victim to the sport, but little to the group’s knowledge, she is slightly less helpless than they believe her to be; the tables slowly begin to turn.
Clearly, this liberal-vs-redneck picture will anger a few and entertain many. A humorously twisted approach to political satire, The Hunt takes liberal elitism to the ultimate literal extreme, combining 21st-century “wokeness” with the middle-to-upper-class lifestyle in a wildly entertaining, albeit erratic, fashion. The movie stars a variety of characters and personalities, but this is a Blumhouse production, so don’t get too attached to your favourites. There is, as always, no restraint when it comes to gory violence and moments of shock, although this time the studios stay away from horror to instead blast their twisted arsenal in the direction of social and political constructs.
Gilpin kicks ass in the leading role, although it’s never really explained nor discovered why she is so talented in street fighting, so ruthless with a rifle, and more cunning than an assassin. But hey-ho, it makes for good watching, right? This is confirmed all the more by the final battle against big boss Athena (Hilary Swank). However, it is at this point that the positives end and the foibles unravel.
Standing at less than 90 minutes, The Hunt undeniably makes for easy viewing, but it might also be the cause of the baggage the film carries. The premise, much like a realistic Hunger Games (just not as good), is at times completely uncertain about what it wants to be. Starting off quite ambiguous, it then becomes very literal in its purpose and aim, but jumps from scenario to scenario like it wants to avoid slotting into any one genre. Character development is seriously avoided – almost on purpose – and the moment a genuine, non-hyperbolic situation arises, it is snatched away like candy from a baby, resorting to the exploding heads and pointless direction it seemed content with before.
Holding two fingers up to the “woke” side of life, and indeed its own critics prior to its release, The Hunt rests its hopes on the hidden messages within its narrative, but these don’t always hit home with their desired effect. The film will, of course, find its fans, but by the time the credits roll, you will be left with an incredibly mild feeling of satisfaction, finding joy in the self-deprecating humour and outlandish premise rather than leaping in awe from having watched a feast of a spectacle.
The Hunt is released nationwide on 11th March 2020.
Watch the trailer for The Hunt here: