No prisoners in this one. Only land mines.
- Bitter and witty
- Solid gore
- Truly has no team
- Betty freaking Gilpin
- Could have sharpened its satire
- Important topics are occasionally the casualty
- Technically unremarkable outside of the guts
Do you ever wake up and think, "I'd like to seek out the most misanthropic, burn 'em all flick I can find today"? If so, you're in luck. Because that's exactly what kind of horror jam you're getting from The Hunt. It's two hours of just straight up mad-at-humanity fun, and it doesn't care who it ticks off. Blood, guts, and plenty of commentary fly in this one, but we're not going to dive in too deep on the plot. There are some fun, minor twists, and plenty of kills that are better off left unspoiled.
The premise of the film is pretty simple; a group of liberal elites have gathered a bunch of folks that they deem to be deplorable, tied and gagged them in a field, and are ready to start their hunting season. The 'how' and the deeper 'why' of that get explained as the film progresses. However, the overall hunting and killing of an opposing political party are the long and short of things narratively speaking.
The Hunt might be political satire meets murder spree, but it only nails the latter of the two. It wants so badly to say something about the political climate in America. Namely, it wants to call out the blind faith that some have in their political party. There are areas where it succeeds, like calling out the extremes of both sides or allowing each one to laugh at themselves a bit. We'll dive into the areas that it doesn't a little later.
The Hunt: What I loved
While The Hunt's plot is more hammer than a scalpel, it actually ends up being funnier than it has any right to be. As political satire, it's certainly trying to say a thing or two. While it doesn't always succeed, it does deliver on the laughs for the target audience. Make no mistake, this flick is mean. The plot's premise is right vs the left, but there's no narrative side to be chosen. It's here to burn everything to the ground, including itself if necessary.
This film had a brief theatrical run before the world shifted to its current self-isolation model, so you've undoubtedly heard countless critics singing Betty Gilpin's praises by now. It's important that you know that said praise isn't overhyped. Everything that works narratively in the movie works because of her. From her dry wit to her facial tics, there's no questioning that Gilpin's Crystal is the star.
While there's a clear right and left in The Hunt, there's also no real distinction between right and wrong. The movie takes time to reveal everyone's backstories before the credits roll, but make no mistake that its punches are aimed at everyone. There are no characters, only caricatures, and it's open season on all of them.
Open season, blissfully, means blood. It's not necessarily a gorefest, but we do get our fair share of guts early on in the mayhem. The "antagonists" might be "liberal snowflakes," but they know their way around landmines and spiked pits. With the blood comes a well-choreographed final fight that's chock full of one-liners and flesh wounds and brings about a decently satisfying end.
The Hunt: Where it struggles
While there's plenty of fun to be had, there are several areas where The Hunt could be better. Its commentary on face-value politics may be worthwhile, but there are some casualties to its both sides approach. When each character is a caricature, it's easy for issues like global warming to end up as the butt of the joke. Satire's fun, but there's a way to laugh in the face of blind faith without critical issues becoming casualties.
That issue can be tied into the film's satire needing a little sharpening. Gilpin's performance helps take the commentary a long way, but it can't do all the work on its own. Not picking a side doesn't have to work against you, but you have to know what it is that you're trying to say. The Hunt's weak swings at cancel culture are lackadaisical at best. And, while Gilpin's performance is legendary, closing on the idea that the white moderate is the one making the right call in today's political landscape is yikes worthy no matter how fun you make the character.
The Hunt is never silent in its views. The thing is, the way those views are presented kind of just ends up sounding like the Yip Yips from Sesame Street. It's trying to call out cancel culture and blind faith. Instead, it just sort of barks at itself for two hours? It's fun as is, but it could be so much more if it took less of a middle of the road approach in a political culture where not choosing a side is practically negligence.
Don't expect the film to wow you with technical prowess, either. It's got some pretty backdrops, but everything it's doing from costuming to cinematography is expected. It's not setting out to break any molds here, and that's fine! If its other areas were sharper, this wouldn't even be noticeable. Your best bet here is to keep your focus on the blood.
The Hunt: Should you watch it?
Yeah! The Hunt is great fun. Just don't go into it expecting it to be something it's not. I wish its commentary were smarter and that there weren't relevant issues that were lost in the battle to ultimately say nothing, but it's not my job to want a film to be something it isn't. For all the hype and hoopla over its delay, this one's just a fun and often funny say-nothing kind of ride. It's not trying to change the world; it just wants to burn it all down.
Sometimes that misanthropy is precisely what's needed from a horror flick like this one. Come for the guts, stay for Betty Gilpin's gritty-yet-charming survivalist. Just be sure that you're as ready to laugh at yourself as you are to laugh at "the other side."
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