Movie Review: THE HUNT Starring Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, Ike Barinholtz
Friday the 13th of this March sees the release of the anticipated political thriller The Hunt, directed by Craig Zobel. Shelved since the film’s original release date of September 27th, 2019 – the film used its delay as a marketing source, drumming up some excitement for its release using the tagline “The most talked about movie of the year is the one no one’s actually seen.” There wasn’t much publicity surrounding the original release date of the feature last year, so pushing back its release seems to have made it more noticeable on movie-goers’ radar.
Causing controversy and conversation seems to be the goal of most movies driven by a politically-fused plot, and The Hunt is no exception. It doesn’t take long for the film to pick up a pace and maintain it throughout the 90-ish minute runtime, with enough excitement and violence to leave the audience entertained and, in certain scenes, shocked. Without spoiling anything, just enter this film knowing one thing: A lot of people die, rather violently and abruptly, so don’t get too focused on character development. That being said, the movie was quite fun. It left me with the same feeling of last year’s horror-comedy, Ready or Not.
Adapted from the short story “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell, The Hunt is not the first movie to tackle this particular thread. The film follows a dozen individuals, who wake up gagged and in an unknown area, seemingly being hunted by a group of individuals with different political and social beliefs than their own. It doesn’t take long to realize that the targets being hunted were specifically chosen, but why? And more importantly, by whom? One target in particular, Crystal (played by Betty Gilpin,) seems much rougher around the edges than her fellow captives, proving to be smarter and more in tune to what is happening, giving her the edge she might need in order to survive. Joining Gilpin to round out the cast is also Hilary Swank, who plays the ring leader of the hunting group, as well as Emma Roberts, Ike Barinholtz, Sturgill Simpson, Glenn Howerton, and Justin Hartley to name a few.
The film explores both sides of the political spectrum is the most extreme of ways, overexaggerating many of the characters that creates a satirical element. It seems the character of Crystal is caught in the middle, just trying to survive, not really knowing who is an ally or an enemy. For the sake of the story, I believe the intention is for the majority of audience members to find relatable qualities in her, as to where the majority of the other characters exist as comedic clichés. While many may see the film as an enjoyable satire of domestic violence and aggression between two extreme opposing forces of a political spectrum, the film will definitely offend some. Rather it’s positive or negative, The Hunt will make a splash. Personally, I enjoyed the film for what it was. It was fun, violent, comedic, and the writing was absolutely fantastic – filled with many poignant one-liners and politically -charged jargon that brought some chuckles from the theatre.
Overall, The Hunt seems like a collab between The Purge and The Hunger Games, with a volume bump on overall gore and violence, earing its hard “R” rating. The film also explores some literary themes, diving into the political epitomes of George Orwell and the classic fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare.” If you’re looking for a fun film, and aren’t squeamish to a high death toll, I recommend checking out the movie. Remember to enjoy it, and that the point of satire isn’t to offend, but mock in a manner that is still respectful of social commentary.
The Hunt earns a B-