The Hunt (2020)

The Blumhouse jamboree continues this week with another vague horror-come-thriller in the form of The Hunt. Directed by Craig Zobel, no me neither, and written by Nick Cuse and Damon.. Lindelof. Ah. Well that explains it. Posed as a satire of the divide between left and right politics in America, The Hunt falls.. well short of the mark, despite some faintly funny lines and a smattering of action here and there.

The story begins with a group of twelve strangers being dropped off in the middle of nowhere by a group of elitist, champagne-swilling tycoons. Each of those who have been dropped off have no idea where they are, or how they got there – all they know is they’ve been kidnapped, they’re gagged and they’re in the middle of nowhere.

It doesn’t take long before the group find themselves huddled around a crate left in the middle of a clearing. Despite warnings, one of the strangers manages to pry the crate open – revealing guns. Lots of guns. As the strangers rush to arm themselves, they quickly become under attack from an unseen enemy – and we watch as the people fall one by one, in a series of darkly comic ultra-violent ways.

As the survivors try to escape, the net widens, and we’re soon introduced to the aloof and deadly Crystal, played by Betty Gilpin, whose sharp wit and ability allows her to survive. But as she gets closer to escaping, she begins to fight back – but as Crystal squares up against her unknown assailants, we begin to wonder why these individuals would be chosen – and, most importantly of all, we wonder who will survive the battle royale?

The Hunt seems like a good idea. It really does. Like, The Hunger Games but with grown ups. Or The Purge, but with grown ups. It has everything you need for a satirical story posing opposite political ideals against each other, but what it lacks is the subtlety. You can tell a satirical story without tearing quotes straight off of Twitter. You can pose questions of morality without forcing yourself down a path of two-dimensional characters. I swear you can, I’ve seen it!

Sadly, The Hunt is a bit of a mess. Dark humour hits the spot here and there, but the moments that work are barely worth a chuckle between huge swathes of absolutely nothing. In fact, several of the jokes – that were clearly hard biting satire at the time of writing – now feel outdated and cliche, with a lot of the action feeling underwhelming at best.

Betty Gilpin’s portrayal of Crystal feels charmless, and though it may have been a deliberate choice, it left me wanting someone… anyone to take her share of the scene away. Thankfully Hilary Swank, playing Athena – the film’s main antagonist – oozed with sinister charm and the pair shared a genuinely awesome fight scene – though disappointingly bloodless.

There isn’t much more to say about The Hunt. It all just sort of.. happens. I didn’t care much for either side, and by about halfway through.. just kinda wanted it all to be over. 


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