Betty Gilpin as Crystal
Hilary Swank as Athena
Ike Barinholtz as Staten Island
Emma Roberts as Yoga Pants
Glenn Howerton as Richard
Amy Madigan as Ma
Justin Hartley as Trucker
Written by Damon Lindelof & Nick Cuse
Directed by Craig Zobel
The Hunt Review:
The Hunt was supposed to come out last September, but between the controversial plot – wealthy, liberal elites hunting poor, gun-loving conservatives – combined with a weekend of violence at the hands of gun-toting mass shooters in two separate massacres, the film was pulled.
A little more than six months later, and The Hunt is back on. The film opens on a private plane, filled with wealthy assholes. Locked in the back are drugged conservatives. When they wake, they are in the middle of nowhere, gagged and alone. Making their way to a clearing, they find a box filled with weapons. It isn’t long after that the killing begins. The victims are being hunted from a blind at the back of the clearing. And with landmines. And hunting traps.
A handful of the hunted make it past a fence and onto the road. They realize that they are trapped in Manorgate, a rumored annual hunt in which wealthy people kidnap poor “regular folks” to hunt them. They reach a small mom and pop gas station in a panic… and that is when shit hits the fan.
At this point, it is hard to give plot details without revealing the “twists.” None of them are particularly jaw-dropping, but they still add a nice moment of “ohhh” when you find them out. Suffice it to say, we end up following one woman, Crystal (Betty Gilpin), an Afghanistan vet who kicks ass through the countryside as she fights to kill her abductors and get home.
The film is definitely political. However, it’s not quite as black-and-white as pundits want you to believe. Sure, it is liberals hunting conservatives, but the conservatives were kidnapped and drugged. That automatically makes the liberals the bad guys, right? It does… until the conservatives start spouting a bunch of hate speech and lies, which makes you feel less sorry for them. But then the liberals show themselves to be the most obnoxious group of “woke” stereotypes, so you start to hate them a little more.
Gilpin shines as Crystal. She is thoughtful, resourceful, and kicks so much ass you can’t help but admire her. Her quiet nature, as she analyzes every situation, makes her a bit antisocial. You can’t blame her for that, and it somehow makes her more likable. There are a few other recognizable faces in the cast but, much like Psycho did with Janet Leigh, almost everyone dies in the first act of the film.
One of the more interesting aspects of The Hunt is the idea that spreading a conspiracy theory can cause the conspiracy to come to life. This is not a new trope in horror films, though mostly focusing on urban legends (see also: Candyman, Urban Legend) but in this day of “fake news” and rampant conspiracy theories, it is a fascinating take on the trope. If there is one takeaway from The Hunt, I hope it is this idea that a horrible rumor can become real, and maybe it will make people think twice before spreading a story that cannot be verified.
Ultimately, I don’t think it matters where you fall on the political spectrum; The Hunt is a fun flick. It is all about gory, gruesome murder. A sense of humor keeps it from becoming torture-porn, or from getting too preachy. It doesn’t try to take a stance on which is “better,” the left or the right. It presents both sides as problematic and does so with plenty of action and blood.
The Hunt will arrive in theaters on March 13!