The Hunt (2020)
Directed by: Craig Zobel | 90 minutes | action, horror | Actors: Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, Ike Barinholtz, Wayne Duvall, Ethan Suplee, Emma Roberts, Christopher Berry, Sturgill Simpson, Kate Nowlin, Amy Madigan, Reed Birney, Glenn Howerton, Steve Coulter, Dean J. West, Vince Pisani, Teri Wyble, Steve Mokate, Sylvia Grace Crim, Jason Kirkpatrick, Macon Blair
A media smear campaign can generate a lot of publicity and in the case of ‘The Hunt’ that attention was negative. The film is said to glorify violence and capitalize on primitive feelings of revenge. All this attention for this movie came because director Craig Zobel’s production was slated to appear at the time of a number of shootings in America. In August 2019, shootings in Dayton and El Paso killed dozens of people. It was bad timing to say the least to release a movie about an elite group that hunts poor people. The media are slaughtering Zobel’s work, calling it tasteless. The film was taken off the release calendar and shelved. A hype was born, because which horror fan was not triggered by a film that provoked such fierce reactions? After a VOD release in March, this controversial film was released almost silently on DVD and Blu-ray in October 2020. Now that the hype has subsided, the question arises whether this film is really as shocking as it was claimed.
‘The Hunt’ revolves around a group of people who awaken in an unknown place. They have a horse bit in and are completely disoriented. Then they discover that they are being hunted and that their deaths serve as entertainment. However, the mysterious Crystal (Betty Gilpin) refuses to be treated like a target and hits back hard. The hunters become the prey.
What is clear after seeing ‘The Hunt’ is that all the commotion surrounding this production has resulted in a lot of advertising. Without the controversy, this film would never have become this ‘big’. Zobel’s film isn’t too good, because it’s an unbalanced film. The balance between satire, comedy and horror is not well worked out. A brutal murder is provided with a lame one-liner that immediately changes (or rather: kills) the initially gray atmosphere. In addition, Gilpin’s overly cool role is very exhausting. The actress tries very hard to appear tough, but that backfires because her cardboard character has no substance. The satire makes no sense and tries to say something about the refugee problem, gun law and the political situation in America. The vicious comments are deadly and go in all directions. ‘The Hunt’ lacks focus and wants too much: to be comical, serve horror fans and share intelligent thoughts. This mix doesn’t work.
In terms of gore, this film is also not that bad. It is true that people are blown up and brutally murdered, but because films like ‘Saw’, ‘Hostel’ and ‘The Dare’ have set the bar so high in terms of filth, the atrocities in ‘The Hunt’ are not that bad. What remains is a strange film that wants to tell too much, but strings all these loose ideas together in an incoherent way. The absence of appealing characters kills Zobel’s work. The hype was completely unjustified.