Directed by Craig Zobel [Other horror films: N/A]
I knew very little about The Hunt aside from the fact I heard it was political, and being a political creature myself (I’ll get my hot take out of the way: look into third parties, as it’s the only thing that can save us), that didn’t turn me off at all, and while the base idea of this film isn’t original, I did find it quite a decent film with a decent amount of strong points throughout.
The way there was no clear-cut main character until about 25 minutes into the film was sort of amusing. At first, it looks like Emma Roberts (We’re the Millers) would be the lead, but wait, no, it’s Justin Hartley (which I would have been okay with, as he seemed a decent guy). Then misfortune befalls him, and Ike Barinholtz seems to take the main stage. And finally, we get to Betty Gilpin, and she makes a pretty good lead. I thought rotating through the characters until we got to the actual lead was a fun idea, but it does lead to one issue I had.
There’s a lot of characters in this movie. About 12 are the “hunted” ones, and somewhere around seven, if not more, are the ones doing the hunting, and we only really get to know five of these characters overall, and that might be stretching it. I would have liked to know more about some of the hunters than just Athena (Hilary Swank), so that did sort of bother me.
Gilpin does a really good job with her role, and of course Swank (who I know from some random stuff, such as The Next Karate Kid and Freedom Writers) was nice to see here. Hannah Alline, who appeared in two scenes, consistently reminded me of someone (and it just now hit me – it’s Deborah Ann Woll, or Karen from Daredevil), which is probably why she stood out to me, and Amy Madigan (who I recognized from two episodes from Criminal Minds’ second season) was fun in the short time she had. Lastly, while Wayne Duvall’s character remains a bit of a mystery, Duvall was still decent with what we had.
Some comedic influences appear throughout the film, and I think they’re mostly well-done (such as the lengthy fight at the conclusion and Swank’s aversion to being thrown through a glass door), with a good mix between amusing and suspenseful. There’s also a little flashback near the conclusion that fills the audience in a little more on what’s actually going on, which I appreciated (though I wish it could have been longer).
I guess I’ll also say that, while I am a far-leftist (and while I despise Trump, I also despise Obama and Biden), I don’t hate conservatives as some liberals may. I work with many conservatives (in northeast Indiana, there’s not a lot of political diversity), and I understand why many of them supported Trump and why they vote the way they do. The political division is no doubt terrible right now – Republicans hate Democrats, Democrats want Republicans thrown into jail for treason – and this movie parodies that beautifully, which is probably why it has been deemed somewhat controversial (though I really don’t think much of the actual content warrants that label).
Hunting humans isn’t an original idea. The Most Dangerous Game from 1932 dealt with the idea, as did Bloodlust! (1961), Turkey Shoot (1982), and Naked Fear (2007), not to mention plenty of others that I don’t know but am sure exist. The Hunt adds a little political spin on it (technically, Turkey Shoot had a political spin also, but this spin is more accessible to a modern-day audience) and has some clever moments (such as obfuscating the main character and the flashback near the end).
While not overly gory, there are deaths by spike pit and grenades (you have to remember to pull the pin, though), so if that’s your go-to desire, there’s a bit here to keep you happy. The Hunt isn’t really that special of a movie, but I did think it was decently fun, and likely a smidge above average.