The Hunt is many, many things: inflammatory, offensive, problematic, clever, funny, and gory. But overall, it’s good. Really good, actually. But perhaps I should elaborate a bit with some context.
The Hunt tells the story of a group of right-wing, racist conservative Republicans who get dropped into the hunting grounds of top-tier, left-wing, liberal, Democratic elitists. Now the conservatives must band together and survive. It feels like it would fit perfectly in the world of The Hunger Games as some reality show that the Capitol held before the war turned everything gray. Naturally this kind of premise was already controversial but it wasn’t the story that got the movie pulled from theaters. Or even Trump’s Twitter feed.
No, The Hunt was pulled from theaters back in August as it would have released just after a national shooting. This was a clever move on Universal’s part but it was also a dumb one too. You see, most media outlets saw this movie as a means for promoting gun violence, and in a time of shootings, a thin connection like that can make sense. But the actual message of The Hunt, ironically, is how dangerous things can be when you take something that could otherwise be harmless and weaponize it. In other words, the movie is about what happens when you let fear and a lack of foresight ruin something. While it would not have promoted gun violence, a question that stuck with me was would it have helped tensions with the political parties of our currently divided country? Not at all.
This movie rips into both conservatives and liberals HARD. Maybe more so its liberal characters than the conservatives, but it really don’t see a problem with that. Everyone in this movie is a bad person, with the exception of one character. You’re almost glad to see them die because they are just so damn aggravating. However, I know that people who are very politically active and probably won’t like how their “party” is portrayed.
The social commentary of The Hunt is not subtle at all, which it should be. We live in such a divided time in our nation’s history… well, it’s not the most divided time in our country’s history, but it’s definitely not a good one. So a movie like this addresses a lot of issues and topics that are hot button on the news and in politics. It never gives a clear answer on what it’s trying to say, but it’s entertaining while it does it.
However, after acknowledging all of that, you’re probably wondering the big questions: does this movie condone gun violence? Hell no. Does it promote violence between liberals and conservatives? No. Is it over the top and obvious. 100%. Are there reasons you will enjoy it. Yes.
The writing by Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof is sharp as hell and Craig Zobel’s direction is sleek. The story goes places that aren’t necessary tasteful, but it’s damn well funny. And that is something I NEED to mention. If you’re willing to open your mind up to both sides of this political equation, you’ll find that this movie is SUPER FUNNY. There’s a bit with immigration that is one of the funniest bits in the movie. This is a movie I recommend you see in a theater with a large group of people — at least once the Coronavirus has passed.
But what makes this movie fun, with the exception of its writing, is the cast. Despite being hyperbolic, all the characters interact with each other in a way that feels natural. The chemistry here is off the charts and the best part is that all of these actors are good. Not a bad performance to be seen here, and I think the casting director deserves a long, overdue raise.
But despite the great acting, solid writing, and goofy, gory fun, there are some problems with it. Mainly, even though The Hunt discusses a lot of social issues, these discussions never seem to go anywhere. They bring up both political issues on both sides but never tried to decide which was right and which was wrong. For how hard the film leaned into social commentary, I expected them to try and take these issues a bit more seriously, or at least as seriously as this world could be. The Hunt is smart but its lack of subtlety can confuse…well, not smart people. I watched some audience members confuse jokes for social commentary and social commentary for jokes. It was concerning and definitely made me reevaluate some aspects of my life.
On top of that, the amount of plot holes in this film are kind of insane. Things happen and we aren’t given information as to how or why it happened. Why discuss the Manor at all? Was Crystal really lying? Was there a criminal investigation into Manor Gate to at least show that people took it too far? There are plenty moments like these where you’ll be scratching your head at the lack of answers and plot holes we’re given. It makes thinking about the movie kind of a headache.
Can these flaws be forgiven? That really depends on you and whether or not you can look past them. I can look past a lot of it, but there some parts that I just couldn’t get behind. So overall, I really liked this movie for what it was: an over the top political comedy that doesn’t really do anything new, but does what it does well enough.
So what’s the totally non-political verdict on this “controversial” movie?
Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars.
The Hunt isn’t a bad movie, and the fact that this was seen as a danger to our society just for just being a standard hunger games type genre flick is beyond crazy. Now, while I can say that with full confidence, I won’t deny that it’s not a movie that will help our nation’s divisions. It’s funny and smart, but the lack of subtlety makes it hard to agree with at points. But if you’re willing to look past it and just watch the movie for what it is, you’ll have a fun time nonetheless.