- Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, Ike Barinholtz
- Nick Cuse, Damon Lindelof
- Craig Zobel
- 14A (Canada), R (United States)
- Running Time
- 89 minutes
- Release Date
- March 13th, 2020
You’d have to live under a rock to not have heard about the controversy that surrounded The Hunt upon its initial planned release date of last September. A lot was made about what the film may or may not have been about but after having watched the film, the earlier outrage was certainly unwarranted. Nevertheless, the film is sure to ruffle some feathers amongst audiences anyway as this satirical thriller does not pull any punches in its attacks on both sides of the divided political discourse that makes up the United States today. While some of it is what has already been discussed, it is actually much more than that. However, many will surely not be able to look past its harsh though arguably fair satirical aspects or even its subject matter that is indeed a story involving people who are hunted for sport. To be honest, those with any preconceived objections to the film and its subject matter are probably avoiding it in the first place which is a shame.
As mentioned, The Hunt sees a group of 12 strangers with one special thing in common (i,e. conservatives), who found themselves in a life or death struggle after waking in up in a clearing seemingly in the middle of nowhere under mysterious circumstances. Little did they know, they were about to be hunter for sport by members of the liberal elite under the orders of a woman named Athena (Swank). Now it shouldn’t come as that much of a shock to anyone that the film plays up the contrast between conservatives and liberals, tapping into all the cliches and stereotypes in the book. While going that route is too easy since there definitely a lot of material to go on, it was hilarious as it worked more often than not. The characters on both sides may be over-the-top but this was just a reflection of the satire. Some may take offense with the character depictions, however, this wasn’t necessarily a good versus evil or one side is better than the other situation. Transcending all of that was a woman named Crystal (Gilpin) who was somehow different than the others.
The Hunt was definitely thrilling to watch though the moment that Crystal truly takes over is when the film goes to another level. The brooding badass was an absolute enigma and a blast to watch as she began to turn the tables on her attackers. From there, things would simply get more ridiculous in a sad but also kind of true way that certainly won’t sit well with some audiences and may be difficult to wrap one’s mind around. Meanwhile, the ensuing cat and mouse game will not be for the faint of heart as the film certainly earns its 14A/R rating, boasting plenty of violence and viscera over its nearly 90 minute running time. Also building the tension was the thrilling score permeating throughout. Not a moment was wasted as the film runs at a fast pace, making its already short running time fly by, and was so frenetically shot that it was hard to not look away, especially during the climax.
The best part of The Hunt was ultimately the wonderfully dynamic performance of Betty Gilpin as the brooding and mysterious Crystal. The other characters may be thin caricatures serving the ridiculous plot but at least Crystal had some depth to her. Learning about that over the course of the film was compelling to watch and it was also exciting to see her absolutely kick ass using her smarts and other skills. Not quite fitting on either side of the discourse, she was our way in which worked because she is so likable and relatabale. On the other side was Swank as Athena, a much different role than we are probably used to seeing from her. As the film’s campy villain, she was a delight to watch while absolutely having a blast.
In the end, The Hunt is a film that won’t be everyone’s cup of tea even after a delay but it is what it is. As the poster says, decide for yourself.
*still courtesy of Universal Pictures*