After an initial delay due to mass shootings in the US, Universal Pictures and Blumhouse Productions, The Hunt finally makes its way to cinemas. Directed by Craig Zobel, with a screenplay by Nick Curse and Damon Lindelof, The Hunt is the latest adaption of Richard Connell’s short story “The Most Dangerous Game.”
The Hunt opens up with a catalog of wealthy friends in a group chat. Naturally, the texters are talking about the state of the nation and our Presidential administration. All of the texters mention their excitement about hunting the deplorable. However, the leader of the group heeds warning about talking about the event over a public channel.
Moments later on a private plane, the film reveals the faces of some of those texters. We also see some drugged passengers on the aircraft in shackles. We then see a nameless collection of twelve strangers in an open field, including Emma Roberts, Justin Hartley, Ike Barinholtz, and Ethan Suplee. All of the strangers have gags in their mouths, but one woman, Crystal (Betty Gilpin), manages to escape. Following a gory yet humorous sequence of violent kills, the layers of the plot slowly unravel. One of the layers involves our heroine Crystal, as she plans to take down the hunters and survive the ordeal.
In hindsight, Nick Curse and Damon Lindelof script for The Hunt may come across to some audiences as another version of the classic hunting humans for sport template. It’s a plot we’ve seen done with Jean Claude Van Damme in Hard Target, Ice-T in Surviving the Game, and even John Leguizamo in The Pest. The surprise and strength of Nick Curse and Damon Lindelof’s script is where the writing duo takes the film.
Craig Zober’s direction keeps the film moving along at its brief ninety minutes. Finding myself in full engagement with the film’s narrative, I never found myself checking my watch, and during the film’s action sequences, I either had a smile on my face or found myself clapping with excitement.
I can assure you that the film doesn’t just try and paint Trump supporters as vile snobs who prey on the weak. The film calls out how overly sensitive society has become, while also taking jabs at conspiracy theorists and on-line trolls who aren’t so brave when it’s a life or death situation. Everything from climate change, to crisis actors and how to adequately address a different ethnicity has a mention in the film. While watching the movie, there are numerous laugh out loud moments, as you realize the film is a social commentary on the extreme viewpoints on modern-day Democrats and Republicans, no matter what age.
Betty Gilpin has a star-making turn as our protagonist, Crystal. I’m only familiar with the actress’s dramatic and comedic work, so it was a huge surprise to see her in an action role. Granted she delivers plenty of one-liners, but she can handle a weapon with ease and shine in terms of hand to hand combat. Hopefully casting directors for either Marvel or DC take note, because I would love to see this actress in a superhero film.
Credit must also go to Hilary Swank as our antagonist Athena, who is financing The Hunt. Swank is having a ball portraying our villain, and the filmmakers make a wise choice not to show her face until the film climax of a fight to the death with Crystal. Similar to Betty Gilpin, Swank’s acting focus of recent were either comedic or dramatic roles. It was great to see Swank display the athleticism she used in her first starring The Next Karate Kid as well as her Oscar-winning role in Million Dollar Baby.
Serving as the third theatrical for Blumhouse Productions in the last month, The Hunt is one of the first satirical surprises of the year. With eye-candy action sequences, humorous one-liners, and excellent lead performance from Betty Gilpin, I highly recommend the film.
Final Grade A-