The Hunt: Film Review

The Hunt

The Hunt has been surrounded by controversy, with its release being shelved in September following shootings in America, and considering its polarising political content, that was probably a good idea. If you’re hoping to watch a horror, you might be disappointed with The Hunt because it is a violent political satire.

The film follows 12 strangers – played by the likes of Emma Roberts, Justin Hartley, Ike Barinholtz and Betty Gilpin – who wake up in a clearing and have no idea where they are or how they got there, but they soon discover they are being hunted for sport by a group of elites. However, the hunters get more than they bargained for when Crystal (Gilpin) fights back and begins picking them off one by one.

The Hunt is not at all what I expected it to be. I thought it was going to be a horror/thriller but it’s not scary at all. It is a gruesome and violent political satire about the divide between America’s extreme left and right. The words “Republican” and “Democrat” are never used, but it’s very easy to tell which side someone is on based on their accents, the state they’re from and some of the racist/homophobic/hippie comments they make. The majority of the characters are shallow, cartoonish stereotypes, illustrating the most extreme sides of the divide, but this is played mostly for laughs and to make it instantly obvious who they vote for. You get slightly more character development once there are only a few left, but even then, it’s still on the thin side. That means the audience, no matter their political leanings, can’t help but support Gilpin, who is a military veteran from Mississippi (assumed to be Republican), because you spend the most time with her and she’s the only one who isn’t a total asshole (even when she’s killing liberals).

The Hunt has a lot it wants to say but doesn’t really know how to say it. It just kind of showcases how dumb, ridiculous and close-minded those with extreme views can be and how people assume someone’s political stance based on their hometown, their accent etc. It has a big old anti-hate message and uses horror to hammer it home but chooses to go for a glib and quirky tone towards the end when it could have been more serious. I personally enjoyed the vibe because it made me laugh but the insincerity was at odds with the material. I laughed far more than I expected to, given the concept.

My thoughts about The Hunt are honestly all over the place. I loved some parts and disliked others. The Hunger Games-style beginning was great – I enjoyed that some big names got killed off straight away – and I liked the inclusion of a grilled cheese sandwich (I thought about it a lot), but I have major mixed feelings about the heavy-handed script and plot. The only thing I am confident about is how fantastic Gilpin was. I don’t think I would have liked the film half as much if it wasn’t for her. She has the best facial expressions – you don’t normally see such reaction faces being pulled on film. I liked her more when the film got more trashy and fun towards the end and her fight with Hilary Swank was very entertaining. It was refreshing to see Swank playing a douche.

If you think the film will go easy on the Democrats and harder on the Republicans, you’d be mistaken – The Hunt is probably going to piss off extreme people on both sides of the divide. It could have done with honing its message and its tone, but despite these things, I enjoyed it a lot. It’s bonkers, over the top, and silly and Gilpin was just awesome.

In cinemas now 

Rating: 3/5

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