The Hunt is a really strange film, just from a marketing standpoint. One can’t help but wonder how much of the film’s “problems” were publicity stunts, but now the “most controversial movie of the year “(at least that’s how it’s marketed) is out. And as it turns out, it’s not so controversial: it’s just a silly toothless ultraviolent romp with a very strong and promising lead.
I won’t give away too much of the plot, but suffice to say there is a “Most Dangerous Game” quality to the Hunt, with a touch of Animal Farm vomited on top. A group of individuals are rounded up and placed in a field, Hunger Games style, for a mysterious group to hunt for sport. As the narrative slowly unfolds and jumps around (jarringly, I might add), you’ll learn more about how the game came to be and who the masterminds are behind it. Outside of one twist, it’s mostly rote.
That’s the thing about The Hunt: it’s an uneven action flick that does not commit to its politically charged premise. All of the typical buzzwords are here on display: “refugee camps, crisis actors, deep state theories, the phrase ‘snowflake,’ and global warming scares. Anytime The Hunt is fixated on using one of these topics as it punch line, it falls flat or turns absolutely cringeworthy. When Betty Gilpin is going hog wild and exacting her revenge on her captors: smiles aplenty.
Gilpin is the glue that holds this cobbled concept together, and she’s proved that she’s one to watch going forward far before The Hunt was released. She’s slowly been building up her resume with shows like GLOW and small parts in films like Isn’t It Romantic, but this should make her a household name. The way she plays the kind-of-together-but-not-really Crystal is mesmerizing, especially when juxtaposed to the other serviceable performances within.
When The Hunt is leaning into its silly Hunger Games meets Saw gore-fest, it excels. The action scenes (shout-out to the great stunt team) are fun to watch, especially the finale. But those are often hampered by the aforementioned cringe commentary and a Kill Bill-esque “mystery” complete with lore dumps that isn’t all that interesting (there are so many parallels to Kill Bill but to mention them directly would be giving too much away).
Thanks to a focus on Gilpin, The Hunt is just over the
“watchable” rating. It’s a frequently fun action flick that could go down as a
cult classic in some circles and should garner a few audible gasps from the
audience during its sometimes convoluted twists and turns.