THE HUNT – Review
A vicious reflection of election cycle politics, THE HUNT is bloody fun if you like your violence and exploding body parts played for laughs. If you’re looking for an edgy political subtext that you may have heard about (this film was supposed to open last September but was postponed when President Trump tweeted about it), you’ll likely be disappointed. There’s style and attitude to spare, but THE HUNT struggles to balance its comedic and satiric elements.
After a gruesome (if unnecessary) prologue set aboard an airplane, THE HUNT finds twelve right-wing archetypes suddenly awake and lost in the middle of a field with a large wooden crate full of firearms to choose from. Also in the crate is a playful pig wearing a white shirt, the first of the script’s many references to George Orwell’s Animal Farm. But before you can say “Arnold Ziffel”, these folks are tumbling into spike pits, stepping on landmines and having their heads blown to bits. It turns out there is an underground organization of wealthy liberal elites who so look down on Bible-thumping, gun-clinging “deplorables” they drug and fly them to an intricate shooting range in Croatia (disguised as Alabama) called “The Manor” where they’re picked off with sniper rifles while the hunters smirk and sip pricey champagne. Much blood is spilled and many comic quips are uttered as the absurdities pile up, but THE HUNT never adds up to much.
Yes, THE HUNT is yet another variation of The Most Dangerous Game (first filmed on 1932), one that somewhat cynically uses our current, ugly state of partisan conflict as the angle for an oft-told story. Craig Zobel’s direction is confident, moving things at a lively, entertaining pace (its 89 minutes whiz by) but the underdeveloped screenplay relies too much on cartoonish portrayals of political extremes. There are some familiar names in in the cast, but if you’re going to see THE HUNT as a fan of actors such as Emma Roberts, Ike Barinholts, Ethan Suplee, Amy Madigan, or Sturgill Simpson, don’t get too attached. A running gag in the film’s first act is killing off characters you assume will be at the film’s center. That ‘Final Girl’ honor belongs to Betty Gilpin, last woman standing from about the film’s halfway point. Gilpin is good in THE HUNT, but the film’s second half underwhelms. Audiences may delight in the carnage, yet find themselves longing for a strong payoff instead of the extended kitchen-set catfight right out of the first KILL BILL. THE HUNT has some funny moments but it doesn’t always work (they do nothing interesting with that pig). It’s neither witty nor exciting enough to make it a must-see.
2 of 4 Stars