It’s not often that a horror film has caused quite as much controversy as The Hunt, which is directed by Craig Zobel and produced by Blumhouse Pictures. When the announcement was made that the film was canceled due to significant backlash that it caused, I was completely shocked. It’s one thing for a film to have an impact once it’s released, but for one to get this much negative news surrounding it before it gets released was surprising. Films have never been shy in advocating for a specific political agenda, but I never once got that impression from The Hunt. I was delighted to see that the film was, in fact, going to be released after all since I was looking forward to it after the cast was revealed.
The Hunt, which is loosely based on the short story “The Most Dangerous Game,” follows twelve strangers who mysteriously wake up in a clearing. The group has no recollection as to how they got there or who took them there. As the film progresses, they discover that they have been selected to be hunted in a game by members of an elite group. Members of the elite group gather in a remote area known as the Manor House and plan how to carry out the game. However, their plans begin to fall apart when one of the hostages, Crystal (Betty Gilpin), starts to fight back and kills those responsible.
Before talking about any other aspects of the film, I feel it’s necessary to touch on the political themes within the film. There was a worry that the film was advocating for conservatives to hunt down “deplorables” or that it was siding with a more liberal agenda. Both assumptions were based on mere speculation. I understand why certain individuals would be worried about a popular Hollywood film advocating something of that nature.
However, all the film touches on is political satire. Much like the satire that would be found in films like The Dictator or Accidental Love. This film isn’t aiming to target a particular group or make one feel lesser than the other. Instead, The Hunt satirizes both sides of the political spectrum simply to point out some of their flaws. Satire has long been used for this sort of commentary, especially in literature. I’m glad that it’s still being incorporated in films today.
One of the main reasons why I was excited to see this film was because of Betty Gilpin. At the time that she was announced to be part of the film, I was just getting into G.L.O.W., the Netflix original show that she was in. Her character on G.L.O.W. quickly became one of my favorites on the entire show. However, I would’ve never expected that Gilpin’s character in The Hunt would be the one to carry the film throughout most of its run-time.
Crystal has such an imposing action presence once she starts to get revenge on the kidnappers. I was surprised since I got the impression that she would just be one of the twelve people kidnapped rather than a fearsome heroine. As I was watching the film, I was taken back to watching Sharni Vinson in the 2011 horror film You’re Next. In both scenarios, the main protagonist rises above and becomes someone not to mess with. I’m hoping that Gilpin gets more roles like this that show how incredible of an actress she is.
With films like Saw and Hostel, the world of horror has grown acclimated to the amount of gore that is present in films. This is the case in The Hunt, which isn’t shy in holding back just how gory a film can be. Though most of the gore seemed to have been done through CGI effects, it was still jarring to see how far the film would take its gore level. The Hunt doesn’t go to the level of gore like any film in the Saw franchise, but it’s still pretty jarring. These are scenes that need to be seen rather than talked about, especially for gorehounds. This is something to keep in mind if you aren’t too comfortable with gory scenes in horror films.
Overall, I really enjoyed watching The Hunt and I’m grateful that the film was actually released. I understand the worries that people had, but most of the talk surrounding this film that got it canceled was a bit excessive. The film offers Gilpin a chance to show her true acting abilities while also satirizing the current political state of the United States. If anything, I’m just a bit disappointed that the film wasn’t released during its original timeframe. The Hunt truly lives up to the saying “don’t trust a book by its cover.”
The Hunt is now playing in theaters.
I really enjoyed watching The Hunt and I’m grateful that the film was actually released. I understand the worries that people had, but most of the talk surrounding this film that got it canceled was a bit excessive. The film offers Gilpin a chance to show her true acting abilities while also satirizing the current political state of the United States.