Marketed, rather brilliantly, with the effective tagline “the most talked about movie of the year is one that no one’s actually seen”, The Hunt just dropped on VOD in the midst of Coronavirus, which shortened its theatrical run.
As most of you might know, in the wake of two mass shootings in the USA in 2019, The Hunt was pulled from theatres even before getting released. This only increased its reputation, and Blumhouse, which knows how to do marketing and business, decided to ride the wave once the movie got greenlit for distribution in 2020. So, what was all the fuss about? Is this movie only worth for its marketing and controversy?
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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The Hunt – no one is safe
The Hunt is directed by Craig Zobel (Compliance, 2012 and Z for Zachariah, 2015) and written by Nick Cuse & Damon Lindelof (yes, the same guy that ruined the last season of GoT). It follows a group of strangers who wake up in a clearing: they don’t know where they are, or how they got there. However, they soon discover that they have seemingly been chosen to be hunted in a game devised by a group of wealthy elites. The group of people chosen, however, are not picked at random, but based on their conservative agenda. The hunters’ sport is derailed, though, when one of the hunted people, Crystal (Betty Gilpin), fights back and starts killing them one by one.
The Hunt is not just an action-horror-comedy as some make it out to be: this movie is pure, cleverly-written and unflinching satire, which mostly targets American politics and quarrels between liberals and conservatives. As such, The Hunt isn’t trying to side with either one of them: this film just takes some common clichés about both liberals and conservatives, and pokes fun at them. At times, the humour is really obvious and noticeable, other times it’s very subtle and cleverly presented through visuals (such as in the scene right after the train sequence): either ways, it works in most cases. Personally, The Hunt made me laugh way more than 95% horror-comedies!
A compelling, non-stop narrative
Aside from satire, one of the best aspects of The Hunt is its non-stop narrative. There isn’t a single dull moment in this rather short movie (90-minute-long, credits included), there are no fillers whatsoever. The entire runtime is either filled with hilarious jokes (both visual and spoken) or gory and violent action: the action is very well-shot and filmed in a way that enhances fight choreography and amazing practical effects. Towards the end, there’s a confrontation that reminded me of the beginning of Kill Bill: Vol. 1, which I interpreted as a self-aware homage, that truly works.
The first act of this movie, aside from a few music choices that felt out of place, is really refreshing and exhilarating: The Hunt makes a very ballsy decision not to have a clear main character at the beginning, which enhances the stakes and keeps the movie exciting. Once the protagonist is introduced, though, things don’t slow down: Crystal (played by Betty Gilpin, in a career-defining performance) is a fantastic lead, as she’s super badass, extremely likeable and hilarious, very resourceful and relatable.
A few missteps in an otherwise great movie
There are very few aspects that don’t work in The Hunt. The most noticeable, at least to me, is represented by the score, which a lot of the times feels very formulaic and indistinguishable from any other Hollywood horror flick score. This was particularly distracting at the beginning, when the music actually ruins the intensity of the first sequence after the opening credits, a sequence that would’ve been much better with background noises instead of music. Other than that, the actual opening sequence (the one on the plane) feels unnecessary – it’s as though it was attached to the movie later on to show off some cool practical effects.
Speaking of specific sequences, there’s a dialogue-driven moment that connects second and third act: here, The Hunt feels a bit less self-aware and playful with its tone, insisting in a too blatant way on the political angle. Finally, despite most performances being great, there’s some bad acting in the movie which, however, comes from less important characters, therefore it’s not really distracting.
The Hunt truly surprised me: despite having some admiration for the director, I was expecting this movie to be average at best. On the contrary, it wasn’t just a good movie: it’s a very clever satire that I can’t wait to watch again.
If you find yourself easily offended by political satire, maybe you should skip this one. However, I would recommend looking past that and just enjoy the ride!
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