The Hunt (2020) Review

The Hunt
Awakening as prey in a deadly game of class warfare turned real, a dozen confused Americans find themselves stalked by vicious, self-styled “godless elites” who seek release for their political rage. Crystal (Betty Gilpin), a resourceful survivor with hidden skills, has a different endgame in mind.

by Joshua Rothkopf |
Updated on
Release Date:

27 Sep 2019

Original Title:

The Hunt (2020)

In the spirit of John Waters, we’ll say that no film deserves to be banned, least of all by a disgruntled Twitter critic (or American President) who hasn’t even seen the darn thing. In the case of Blumhouse’s The Hunt, shelved by distributor Universal last August in the wake of the Dayton and El Paso mass shootings, the controversy turns out to be more sizzle than steak. A Most Dangerous Game-style thriller that puts red-state “deplorables” — yep, that’s what they’re actually called — in the crosshairs of trigger-happy liberals, the film is head-splatteringly violent. But if any on-screen crime is committed, it’s one of being both glib and boring, weighing down a perfectly trashy concept with half-smart, self-satisfied zingers. Do you enjoy being lectured by a 12-year-old? Your poundingly obvious political satire is here.

You’ll pick up whiffs of George A. Romero’s tawdry class warfare and any number of Purge instalments, but The Hunt falls short of them.

These particular 12-year-olds ought to know better. Co-writers Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse (TV’s Watchmen__, The Leftovers) are renowned for their spooky, silent moods, while director Craig Zobel once transformed down-market desperation into pure poetry with 2012’s Compliance. Here, the vibe is slicker. En route to a secret woodsy playground, jet-travelling snobs scarf caviar and champagne while one of their groggy targets — why isn’t he still in his drugged stupor in the back? — wanders into first class, only to be stabbed in the neck. Problem solved. Don’t get too familiar with these denim-clad unfortunates; The Hunt brings on its exploding blood mists and spike pits suddenly, like a latter-day Rambo sequel.

The movie goes just as broad with its caricatured class divide. Lefty hunters bicker incessantly about political correctness in between kills or spout cringe-inducing comebacks: “For the record, climate change is real!” shrieks one oldster after issuing a bit of brutality. Meanwhile, bare midriffs, cigarettes and military trucker hats indicate the hunted, including cool-headed Crystal (GLOW’s Betty Gilpin, physically precise and commanding).

One sequence worth sticking around for is an extended clash featuring multiple impalements with expensive utensils and even a slo-mo body hurl over a lit central fireplace. Gorgeously coordinated by Marvel veteran Heidi Moneymaker, it’s in shouting range of Kill Bill’s close-quarter combat scenes. Elsewhere, you’ll pick up whiffs of George A. Romero’s tawdry class warfare and any number of Purge instalments, but The Hunt falls short of them. (Brazil’s Bacurau takes an almost-identical scenario and pulls it off with John Carpenter-worthy panache.) In the future, we’ll have more movies about today’s divide — they may even be dark comedies like this one. Hopefully, though, they’ll cut much deeper.

A political football that arrives punctured and sputtering, this toothless class satire — an equal-opportunity offender — shouldn’t have pre-enraged anyone. It’s hardly the Hollywood takedown the MAGA crowd feared.
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