{Movie Review} The Hunt (2020) Picks its Prey

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The Hunt

Let’s face it, The Hunt deserves an award for the movie that had the hardest time earning a full release. It fell victim to political headwinds that sidelined if for six months. It also fell victim to a global pandemic the likes of which none of us have seen before. But like the survivors in the film, The Hunt keeps adapting which is how it ended up on VOD yesterday. Like so many others, instead of checking it out at the theatre I caught it on my couch. Which somehow felt like a better setting to check it out. At its core, The Hunt is a silly, shlocky, perfect quarantine cinema. In short, I really dug it.

The story on its face appears controversial (spoiler alert for the rest of the review, I don’t think it really is). A group of elite, wealthy, woke liberals organize a hunt of conservatives. The hunt commences and Betty Gilpin ain’t playing by the rules. As the movie unfolds the plot is not nearly as politically polarizing as it sounds. Conservatives are lampooned right alongside their liberal hunters. One conservative being hunted after having her lower half exploded by a landmine shouts “kill me now you snowflake”. While at the same time the liberal hunters are so committed to being woke we get a scene where they poison their prey and then lament they are poisoning themselves by drinking soda.

The first act of the movie leans heavy into the hunt aspects of the film. In that way it seems a bit like if Battle Royale was pushed into a CNN show from the 90’s. Like if Tucker Carlson and Rachel Maddow were in the Hunger Games. So TOTALLY MY JAM. The movie uses these hidden political signals to its own advantage. At one point one of the hunted conservatives figures out they are not in the state they think they are based on how expensive cigarettes are. No shit cigarette taxes in some states are ridiculous and the fact this was ‘the tell’ that gave it away made me grin ear to ear. It also made me really happy I quit smoking a long time ago.

Damon Lindelof, as one of the writers, knows what he is doing here. As the movie’s twists and turns are revealed the real argument he is making has a lot to do with techniques of online trolling. Both political sides engage in these behaviors and Lindelof seems to acknowledge that its people that are less political, apolitical or politically ambivalent, that are caught in the literal crossfire. In that way, the most controversial message of The Hunt is that it does not give a fuck who it offends. Its pretty rad and pretty radical.

Photo Courtesy of Blumhouse

Lets talk for a moment about Betty Gilpin who is a physical presence throughout this movie. She carries herself with such confidence and poise she seems to be channeling Jason Bourne and the T-800. Its this deadpan delivery and physical performance that makes the movie so much fun to watch. She is a joy and obviously had a ton of fun with this role. In a year full of kick-ass performances Gilpin’s stands out. The movie is more than just fun its hilarious. At one point one of the conservatives shouts to one of the liberal hunters “you’re going to hell”. Only to be met by the hunter with “I don’t believe in hell”. The winks and nods are plentiful. There is a podcast joke that makes me chuckle just thinking about it.

If I have any complaint, it would be that the movie is a bit on the talky talky side. There are a couple of big long expositional dumps we get from Swank and Gilpin that slowed the film down. I am not sure if it felt slow because the rest of the film was so snappy or if they could have been cut down. One particular story Gilpin gives us about a tortoise and a hare has a great punch line but man it takes us a while to get there. I follow politics. I enjoy the gamesmanship of the modern political cycle (I know I am probably a masochist). If you are not as political. Or if the cycle has jaded you and made you sick of the entire thing (I get it) than The Hunt maybe a little less appealing. In the end the movie warns us from screwing with people on the internet. That is not a bad message. The ultimate question. Are you the Tortoise, Hare, or Snowball?

Non-Horror Lover Critique (My wife, Nichole): It was a lot of fun. We love Gilpin from G.L.O.W. It was pretty gross especially early but I liked it. It wasn’t scary at all.

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