The Hunt Movie Review
The controversial thriller The Hunt proves to be anything but, providing no more than a vanilla experience that fails to live up to the hype. About a group of “deplorables” who find themselves being hunted by ruthless elite intellectuals, the movie markets itself as a satire, but in reality it plays like a poor man’s Black Mirror episode.
The Hunt offers a moderate level of entertainment if all you’re looking for is a bit of cheesy violence, but it is the kind of movie that should be gloriously nihilistic, brutal and funny—and simply isn’t.
It starts off strong enough, with various deplorables waking up in a field with a bunch of weapons to choose from a la Hunger Games. Director Craig Zobel takes a unique approach, declining to focus on his lead protagonist Crystal (Betty Gilpin) immediately and instead shifts perspective between several disposal characters who are... quickly disposed of. Some of the deaths during this early sequence are gruesome and amusing in the ways intended.
But from there The Hunt becomes straightforward and routine. The deaths become less frequent and less elaborate. The plot, if you can call it that, slows, while Zobel is unable to establish any real sense of suspense. The film’s largest failings may be its disappointing villains; painting elites as baddies who would want to kill a bunch of lowlife rednecks could work, but Zobel and writers Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof needed to go balls to the wall here and they simply don’t. Think The Purge series, with it’s frightening class warriors, or the privileged who enjoy massacring tourists in Hostel. There are plenty of other examples of turning a whole class of people into sinister creatures, but the filmmakers lose sight of this objective altogether.
Sadly, that leaves Oscar-winner Hillary Swank to bear the full weight of the villain load, but her character is as dry and bland as they come. The Hunt needed something sensational, and instead they gave they made the villain a corporate executive.
The movie nonetheless is an easy watch, fast-paced through and through. Gilpin makes for a solid protagonist, a tough-as-nails woman who knows how to handle a rifle and fight back as the situation dictates. Zobel should have leaned on her more and let her really get her hands dirty, but oh well.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.