The Hunt follows twelve strangers as they wake up in a clearing with no recollection of how they got there, and soon find themselves hunted for sport by a group of liberal elites.
Starring Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, Emma Roberts, Ethan Suplee and Justin Hartley, and written by Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof, The Hunt’s original release was delayed in 2019 due to a number of mass shootings in America. It was pushed back to Spring 2020 only for it to come out just before the big lockdown for COVID-19, so to say this film has suffered a few setbacks would be an understatement, and this is a shame as it’s actually one of the most enjoyable new releases I’ve seen in 2020 so far.
Right from the opening scene, The Hunt shows you what it’s made of – understated and subtle it is not. It’s a riotously funny and witty parody, poking fun at absolutely everyone in it with it’s on the nose references that are so relevant to today’s political and social climate. Neither the prey nor the hunters escape unscathed, in all manner of the word, and everything from climate change to racial prejudices and political ideology feature heavily in the running satire on offer here. This is a darkly funny and very smart film, and it knows it.
What this film is not though, is a horror film. Gory yes and brilliantly so, but it is in no means scary or horrifying. The plot itself is, of course, reminiscent of Battle Royale and even The Hunger Games, but The Hunt is very much its own film. It starts with an overly dramatic score and a decent amount of tension, and shifts into the action virtually straight away – with a short 90-minute runtime, this doesn’t waste its time on unnecessary exposition. Whilst I wouldn’t say this isn’t entirely unpredictable, The Hunt still has a few surprises to throw at you. The first half-hour plays out a lot differently than you’d expect and makes you wonder if it’s played out its hand a little too soon.
But then in walks Betty Gilpin who is by far the star of the show and leads the remaining hour almost single-handedly. Gilpin’s Crystal is a kickass, strong, smart heroine and she’s a delight to watch, although even she can’t quite save the lull halfway through. Fortunately, the lull doesn’t last long and watching Crystal exact her revenge on the hunters is wonderful to watch. Hilary Swank, however, is on the sidelines for most of the film, and for some bizarre reason whenever she is featured earlier on her face is kept hidden which is a rather strange move when we all know who it is. But despite this, when Swank is finally revealed in the final act she plays the cold, cruel and calculating Athena as a perfect callous bitch. The final exchange and reveal between Athena and Crystal is smart, tense and wickedly funny, and the ensuing fight scene is beautifully choreographed with some great laughs thrown in and is probably the best fight scene I’ve seen in any film in quite some time.
The Hunt is gloriously over the top and mocks everyone and everything, yet also proves to be an equally thought-provoking and relevant commentary on today’s society. As long as you’re not easily offended and don’t take it too seriously, it’ll prove to be hugely entertaining.
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