Before I actually begin talking about how much I enjoyed the film, I need to express my love for its tagline – “The Most Talked About Movie of the Year is One That No One’s Actually Seen.” In the spirit of humorously self-aware films like “Deadpool,” “The Hunt’s” tagline critiques American society the same way the movie does. In fact, the original title of the movie was supposed to be “Red State vs. Blue State,” so I’m not quite sure if you could get any more on the nose about what this movie is trying to say.
However, in director Craig Zobel’s attempt to influence a new wave of political nihilists, he becomes Icarus, flying too close to the sun. That is, “The Hunt” tries to be something it doesn’t have to. Before I get into just what that is, it’s important to understand the core plot of the film.
The film begins with a text conversation. To be honest, using a graphic of a text conversation to basically explain your film’s exposition is terrible filmmaking. A group of what’s perceived as left-winged people jokingly talk about hunting down deplorables at a private mansion that’s seemingly owned by one of the members of the group text. The online conspiracy theory community goes into a frenzy deciphering whether or not that “Manorgate” is real. The notion of whether or not the hunt is a planned thing amongst these people or a gag isn’t revealed right off the bat, so it’s important to pay attention as the film goes on. Surely enough, a group of twelve strangers emerge from boxes in the middle of an open field. The strangers begin to undo their gags and binds while trying to figure out what’s going on, as they find an arsenal of weaponry alongside them. What happens next is something that sets the tone for the rest of the film.
I don’t want to give away too much, because anyone reading this should definitely find a way to watch the film. However, the film does not pull any punches. This film is unconventional, it is not afraid to shy away from disrupting relationships between liked characters and the audience. The film does a good job of attempting to subvert your expectations of who lives and who dies, but this magic begins to wear off shortly.
Amongst the crossfire, the film tries to tie this political message around the plot, as if these left-wing liberals are hunting down right-winged conservatives simply because of their worldview. The film doesn’t paint either side to be good or evil, and the hunted and the hunter characters critique their respective political views. In such a politically divisive social climate, I can understand why they wanted a political message, but it isn’t necessary. This movie is bound to offend someone, but I’m not sure if the filmmakers really care.
All this film had to be was a gory, action thrill ride that relied on its humor and violence. The political theme is there for sure, but its humor and gore outshine that completely. I wanted more of that rather than a shoehorned political message. It’s easy to come out and say that political parties are bad, both sides have problems, and we need to come together. This isn’t the kind of movie to do that. It should’ve played to its strengths more.
There is also subtle messaging of the threat of social media and conspiracy theorists in society. With this, the film attempts to critique the proclivity of people to buy into and believe outlandish internet stories and the threat that poses to society. Despite half-hearted attempts at critique, the film is highly entertaining. Watch it with an open mind, and be ready to just have fun. Because despite lazily written political messaging, the film is funny and engaging enough to warrant a purchase. “The Hunt” is perfect for those currently stuck in quarantine. Stay safe and enjoy.