The Hunt (2020)
Directed by Craig Zobel
Produced by Jason Blum & Damon Lindelof
Written by Nick Cuse & Damon Lindelof
Starring: Betty Gilpin, Ike Barinholtz, Amy Madigan, Emma Roberts, Ethan Suplee, Hilary Swank
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are, or how they got there. They don’t know they’ve been chosen – for a very specific purpose – The Hunt.
I can’t believe I thoroughly enjoyed two Blumhouse Production films in a row! I reviewed The Invisible Man last week & explained how their films have been very hit or miss for me but I liked The Invisible Man a lot. Well, I liked this one a lot too. I think I actually liked this even more than that one, although I’d say the The Invisible Man is the better “film”.
Now I have to attempt to explain why I liked this but, to be honest, I don’t exactly know why. I’ll see if I can figure it out while I type my random thoughts! But it’s far more violent than I tend to go for (I’m a wuss). It’s very political (I hate politics). There’s loads of gun violence (I hate guns). Most of the characters are hateful except for the main woman (I hate hateful people). Umm. Yeah… What DID I like?!?
I think what I liked, and I may be completely wrong about this, but I felt like the movie didn’t really take sides (well, a little). It’s clearly about how, in America, there’s this huge divide between the left & the right and everyone is so extremely one-sided. There’s no common sense or middle ground. And it’s well-known that Hollywood tends to be quite far left so I was expecting the movie to be very pro-left but it seemed to show both sides as bad. At first I couldn’t figure out who the hunters were & who was being hunted (it was the opposite of what I expected). The movie actually shows the left more as the “bad guys” (but, more specifically, the liberal elite – so they’re having a good dig at most of rich Hollywood). Which is funny as the movie was super controversial & almost wasn’t released & the right misinterpreted it as an anti-right film before even seeing it. Which perfectly proves the film’s point of jumping to conclusions when you just assume someone’s political stance without attempting to find out any actual facts.
Enough about politics. Yuck. Basically, both sides suck. Everyone in this movie sucks. Only one person doesn’t suck, and that’s Betty Gilpin’s badass main character. She’s great in this & I loved her character. And what are HER character’s politics? That’s the best part: We don’t know! Because it doesn’t matter. She’s a mystery. All we know is that she’s being hunted and no one should be hunted like that. She kicks ass and she might have some dodgy past for her to be so capable of fighting back but, in the grand scheme of things, she’s less evil than everyone else. And I feel that’s all we have left in politics these days: doing our best to choose the lesser of two evils.
I think this movie had a great idea to try to be a smart satire on American politics but felt it didn’t quite manage to get its point across. I wish the script was a bit better as I do like this film’s idea & what I think they were trying to achieve. Are they trying to let the left & the right know that they both suck and are both flawed? Not sure. I don’t know exactly what the movie is trying to say but I give it credit for having the balls to try to say something during such unstable times.
Although it may not quite achieve being some super smart satire, it makes up for it by being a very entertaining horror thriller/horror comedy. As mentioned, Betty Gilpin is awesome as the main “hero” of those being hunted. There’s not much character development for anyone but this is a time I’ll let that slide as one point of this movie is to not make assumptions about people & we really know nothing about anyone in this. Doesn’t matter! They still don’t deserve to be murdered. I also thought Hilary Swank was fantastic as the big “baddie”. Swank is an odd one: two-time Oscar winner who seemed to then get ignored by Hollywood & ended up being in some really dodgy and straight-to-Netflix films. But I loved Million Dollar Baby and I liked seeing her in a very different role here & obviously having a lot of fun as an evil bitch. She was cool. Two cool, badass women who get a kick ass showdown. I enjoyed that a lot. Oh! And I also really liked the bits with Amy Madigan & whoever the actor dude was who ran the small gas station (think it was a gas station?). They were fun characters. Oh! And it was weird seeing Ethan Suplee as I’m watching so much My Name Is Earl lately and Randy is my favorite character (but he couldn’t be less like Randy here). So I guess there are quite a few specific things I really enjoyed about this movie even though I always feel uncomfortable “enjoying” a violent film. It helps that it’s satire and some of the violence is done in a comedic way (I think they should have upped the “horror comedy” to make that more obvious).
As I said, the film is still a bit too violent for me and I’d hesitate to recommend it to some who may find it upsetting. It will be uncomfortable for some people as I know the actual delay in releasing this was due to mass shootings that had just occurred in America, making them push the release date back since the film is about people being hunted & killed mostly by guns. How on Earth did it ever get released, then, since mass shootings are a daily occurrence there? Once again typical that a movie is more likely to get banned than the things that actually kill people but, whatever, we won’t go there! And again we also come to the argument of “is violence in film okay if the point of the movie is anti-violence?” Although in this case, I wouldn’t say that’s exactly the message of the film (it’s more of a “FFS, America – try to get along!” message). I thought about the ultra-violent “anti-violence” thing in some films a lot after finally watching and liking Natural Born Killers way more than I was expecting I would. I don’t know the answer. But I prefer violence in movies where there’s a message and it’s a shame that, with movies such as this and Natural Born Killers, some people seem to completely miss the point when it comes to satirical films. Don’t kill people, okay? This movie isn’t telling you to kill people with an opposing political opinion. It’s, like, telling you to NOT do that. Yeah? Okay. Don’t do that.
You know what? This is one of those times where I’ve talked myself into liking a movie even more after writing & thinking about it. I think there’s actually a pretty good film buried in here somewhere. It has a great idea. It just doesn’t do the satire thing as well as it wanted to and I wish it had as I love what (I think?!) its message is and Betty Gilpin is cool as shit and Hilary Swank is a fun ice cold bitch. And it’s also made me think about this movie quite a lot since seeing it and trying to decide what its main message is and that’s more than I can say for the majority of films these days.
My Rating: 7.5/10