“The Hunt” stars Betty Gilpin, Ike Barinholtz, Emma Roberts, and Hilary Swank. Released on March 13, 2020, the film has a group of strangers fighting for survival against the elite hunters who kill them for sport.
The film is directed by Craig Zobel, who also directed “Great World of Sound”, “Compliance”, and “Z for Zachariah”. It is loosely based on the 1924 short story, The Most Dangerous Game, by Richard Connell. Remember when movies like this can be enjoyed as sources of entertainment despite their representation of real-life violence? Yep. Those were the days. This is one of those situations that got me scratching my head to no end not just because of its concept, but also because of the controversy surrounding it. It was originally set to hit theaters back in September, but because of the mass shootings at Dayton and El Paso and the massive criticism towards its portrayal, the studio decided to shelve the film until the controversy died down a bit. Here’s what funny about this scenario. We have the “Purge” films that offer a similar concept, yet no one batted an eye. When they try to release something like this and “Joker”, everyone lost their flipping minds. Society is confusing sometimes. As someone who’s not an expert on politics, I believe that the uproar towards something like this was completely unnecessary, but I bet you didn’t click on this review just to read my rant about the controversy. You’re here to read my thoughts on the most “talked-about film” that I haven’t seen until now. In case you haven’t noticed, this film comes from the same production company that bounced back with its modern (and very thrilling) adaptation of “The Invisible Man” two weeks ago and is looking to keep the trend going with a political showdown between predator and prey. With that said, let’s see if it's really as controversial as people made it out to be.
In case you skipped the second sentence in my second paragraph, the film is loosely inspired by Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game, and it tells the story of a group of survivors, including a young woman named Crystal (Gilpin), who wake up in the middle of nowhere with no memory of how they even got there. They soon discover that they are pawns of a cat-and-mouse game designed by a group of elitists who hunt them for sport. The film also serves as a satire of a political divide between the supporters and the liberal elites, so if you’re easily offended by this type of stuff, my best advice is to not watch it and not make a big deal out of it. I’m serious, there are other problems in the world that are worth complaining about right now. However, if you really don’t care about all of that stuff and just want to see a fun and crazy adult-rated thrill ride that’s filled with bad language and bloody violence, I can easily say that this film will mostly please your thrill-seeking nerves for about an hour and a half. “The Hunt” had plenty of enjoyable moments that can also be described as twisted, humorous, and gory, but it struggled to be more than just a tasteless and violent political satire. The story was able to introduce its concept right off the bat during its first few minutes, and it never stopped to take a breather until the very end, which is good for those who want to get the fun started right away. Unfortunately, for those who wanted character development and stronger storytelling in this film, it can get a bit tiresome rather quickly. This is another case of “style over substance”, in which the film has a nicely-executed style to go along with its action, but lacks an in-depth narrative to go along with that style. Does that make it a bad movie in my eyes? Of course not. While I wished that the film would explore this concept a bit more without making it too long, I thought it did a nice job at delivering what it promised and having a bit of fun with its violent nature. The film’s central focus is Crystal, who is obviously the only character who lasts longer than the other survivors, mostly because she knows her way around the elitists’ traps. Her main objective is to kill off every single one of the hunters and escape with her life. It’s a simple mission, but it’s a fun one regardless. I had a swell time seeing Crystal beat the snot out of the hunters, and Betty Gilpin’s performance made the experience a lot better. I already mentioned that the film is about an hour and a half long, which isn’t too bad for something like this, but I think they could’ve expand the storyline a bit without overstaying its welcome. Maybe add in some more interactions between the survivors and focus a bit more on its social commentary. I don’t know, just throwing it out there.
Overall, “The Hunt” is a violent, yet watchable, satire that delivers on the gore and nothing else, for better or for worse. Despite a well-deserved performance from Gilpin and the film’s entertaining sequences, the film’s ability to provide a timely story that combines dark humor with social themes kept getting overshadowed by its twisted mind. It’s not a perfect satire, and it’s not something that’s worth getting so mad about. It’s a tolerable film that’s meant to entertain its audience. That’s all. While I did find some enjoyment out of it, I thought there were a few things that they could’ve fixed to make it better, like the story. Regardless of its flaws, I had no problems with the film, and I hope this type of controversy does not happen again.