Dan's Review: Satire, Abstract Lost in the Extreme Gore-fest of "The Hunt"
Mar 15, 2020 12:13AM
By Dan Metcalf
Betty Gilpin in The Hunt - © 2020 Universal.
The Hunt (Universal)
Rated R for strong bloody violence, and language throughout.
Starring Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, Ike Barinholtz, Emma Roberts, Justin Hartley, Glenn Howerton, Amy Madigan, Ethan Suplee, Macon Blair, J. C. MacKenzie, Wayne Duvall, Reed Birney, Teri Wyble, Sturgill Simpson, Jim Klock, Usman Ally, Steve Coulter, Dean West, Steve Mokate.
Written by Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof.
Directed by Craig Zobel.
Let’s talk about politics, why don’t we? If you use that line at family gatherings, church, on the job or among strangers you meet at a party, you can pretty much clear the room and lose a lot of relationships. The extreme polarization of ideology is the main setting for The Hunt, a movie that was supposed to be released in September 2019 but was delayed from theaters due to political sensibilities, a tragic series of shootings, and a few criticisms from our commander-in-chief. So, after careful consideration and a little distance from the events of summer 2019, Blumhouse Productions and Universal Pictures thought the middle of a politically charged pandemic was the right time to share The Hunt with the world. Oddly enough, it may be one of the last new movies you see for a while until the Coronavirus/COVD-19 scare subsides, as most studios are delaying the release of major films for the time being.
Loosely based on Richard Connell’s short story “The Most Dangerous Game,” it’s the story of a group of liberal elites who capture a group of “deplorables,” (a.k.a. Trump supporters) and transports them to a private game preserve where the left-wingers hunt down and kill their right-winger prey. There’s a hidden twist to this scenario that reveals itself at the end of the film, suggesting the “left versus right” battle isn’t as simple as that, but you get the idea. As the deplorables awaken from their drugged state and emerge from the forest, most of them die quick, painful and gory deaths at the hands of their elite oppressors, armed to the teeth with all sorts of weaponry and surveillance tech at their disposal. To give themselves a little challenge, the elites also provide their prey with a few weapons, but only to add a little “challenge” for themselves. One person caught in the middle of the deplorable group is Crystal (Betty Gilpin), who possesses a little more pluck and skill to survive than the others (we learn about her background a little later in the movie). Crystal helps a few others survive (for a while) as she begins taking out the liberal hunters, one by one. She eventually finds her way to the elitist leader Athena (Hillary Swank) and the two women duke it out in a battle to the death.
No spoilers here, but I will say that there’s a little more to the satire than meets the eye in The Hunt. Yes, it is a ridiculous premise to think that a bunch of wealthy, virtue-signaling snobs would detach themselves from morality so far as feeling okay about killing Trump supporters, but there is a lesson to be learned here, and it’s not as simple as extremism is unhealthy. It’s the idea that people who think all Trump supporters are terrible, less than human deplorables – or – people who think all democrats are inhuman snobs – is a ridiculous idea, too. There’s also the idea that people caught in the middle of these extremes are the real victims of the cultural/political divisiveness that feeds on their sensibilities. This frenzy is fed by piles upon piles of misinformation, fed to the public by well-funded machines, touting one extreme over the other.
The Hunt’s hidden truths about such abstracts are lost in a lot (and I mean, A LOT) of brutal killing scenes with plenty of shock value and comedic gore. Maybe the writers, producers, and studios thought that such “kill porn” would be a lot of fun; a great date night experience for all to enjoy. I’m pretty sure most folks will just be grossed out or leave reinforced that the “other side” is the worst and seeing people we disagree with getting slaughtered is a great bit of cinematic fantasy. If that’s all we get from The Hunt, it’s not a good thing.
Aside from all these satirical abstracts and blood splatter is Betty Gilpin, playing the only character who appears to have no extreme political preference (sorry if that’s a spoiler) and pretty much kicks butt out of a need to survive – instead of hatred. Her performance is a beautiful thing to behold and one of the few things The Hunt has going for it.
"The Hunt" trailer