It’s a strange time for the world. The political climate is scary, a pandemic is causing worldwide lockdowns and closures of cinemas everywhere, and a lot of everything is unknown right now. A result of these cinema closures has caused studios to start experimenting with early and day-and-date Video on Demand releases, one of the first of these is The Hunt from Universal Pictures and Blumhouse Productions. The film was notoriously pulled from its original US release back in September 2019 as a result of terrifying real life shootings and wasn’t released until March 2020 in the midst of a global-wide pandemic before being released on VOD (in the United States at least).
So this begs the question, was The Hunt worth all the trouble? Well, not really, no. The Hunt takes obvious inspiration from works such as The Most Dangerous Game and attempts to add modern and political subtext to it. Political satire in today’s climate requires a certain level of care to fully convey its message. Where The Hunt fails is that it’s not subtle about anything. It’s a film that wants to make you react to certain topics such as climate change, immigration, gun rights, racism and homophobia to name a few. The problem is that its execution rings so hollow that it might have been better off not saying anything at all. Satire when done properly can be one of the best things about genre films like this, unfortunately The Hunt fails to deliver.
That’s not to say the film is entirely without its positive aspects, the violence when kicked into gear is brutal, bloody, and unnerving in the way one would hope from a film with the premise of humans hunting other humans for sport. Betty Gilpin gives a strong performance as Crystal, an underdog in a no-win scenario with a few tricks up her sleeve. Hilary Swank on the other hand provides a sometimes on-the-nose performance as the villainous Athena that provided standout moments in the film. There’s a few moments that completely caught me off guard and for that I’ll give credit where it’s due.
Unfortunately for every positive, the writing holds it back entirely. Besides the failure at satire, the movie moves at a breakneck pace and we’re not given enough time to care about anyone or anything. Like the characters themselves we’re thrown into situation after situation without any context or motive. There’s a tangent in the film that comes entirely out of left field and is essentially never touched upon again leaving it feeling entirely hollow. We should expect more from films that explore politically sensitive topics such as these.
Which brings me back to my first point, for a film that uses terms such as “deplorables” and “snowflakes”, who is this film for exactly? When you try to appeal to multiple clashing stances on political topics, you end up pleasing no one in the process. The current political climate and the world are scary places. If you’re going to attempt to bring light to these issues you need to make an actual statement and not a hollow attempt at one.
The Hunt is now available on Digital
by Reyna Cervantes
Reyna Cervantes (She/They) is a freelance writer and screenwriter from the bright skies of southern California. With a wide range of film taste, they find themselves gravitating to any cult films and their favorite films, the Star Wars saga. Their favorite filmmakers include Nicholas Winding Refn and Paul Thomas Anderson or any filmmaker who has an exceptional use of neon. You can follow them on twitter, instagram, and letterboxd at JFCDoomblade.