Movie: The Hunt
Production Companies: Blumhouse Productions, White House Productions
Director: Craig Zobel
Producers: Jason Blum, Damon Lindelof
Scriptwriters: Nick Cuse, Damon Lindelof
Main Cast: Betty Gilpin, Hillary Swank, Wayne Duvall, Ethan Suplee, Ike Barinholtz
Release Date: March 11th 2020 (UK)
Running Time: 90 minutes
Well, how many people remember The Hunt? Well, The Hunt is hiding in the midst of a world event that I can’t quite remember. So, the Hunt sees a rich liberal elite hunting lower classes for sport. Damn, that’s dark. It’s one part horror film, one part Animal Farm in a decent way to kill 90 minutes of your evening on Netflix. So, without further ado here is my review of the film.
The film opens with Athena Stone (Swank) anticipating a hunt of ‘deplorables’ in a manor house (Manorgate). A number of people are on a private jet, including a man Richard who talks with a waitress. Whilst she is serves him champagne (because how else would we know he’s rich), a man emerging from the cargo hold and distracts her. The man stabs at his subduers until a mysterious woman stabs him in the eye with a high heel. Well, that’s one way to ensure the audience won’t side with these lot… The man is then put back in the hold next to an unconscious woman.
Let the Hunt begin
We then jump to the woman waking up in a forest and seeing another woman, Crystal (Gilpin), who ignores her and tries to make a compass from a name tag and some sticks. The woman then finds a crate with a pig (prepare for Animal Farm references) and a cache full of weapons. However, before the woman can react she and the other captives.
Three survivors escape over a fence and find a gas station. Here, the owners Ma and Pa tell the group that they are in Arkansas. Also, the group work out that their circumstances are eerily similar to the Manorgate conspiracy. However, swerve! Ma and Pa are in league with the hunters after one of the hunted eats a poisoned doughnut. Ma and Pa then quickly clean the shop to await the arrival of the hunters.
Crystal fights back
So, who should arrive next but Crystal? She turns up at the gas station and buys a packet of cigarettes. However, she notices the cigarettes are more expensive than Arkansas so naturally shoots both of them with a shotgun. After inspecting her surroundings, she finds a fake license plate over a real Croatian one. Crystal soon meets Gary, a conspiracy theorist podcaster, after he shoots a drone to not draw attention to their whereabouts. Right, that makes a lot of sense. At least Crystal warns Gary not to take the truck which is rigged with explosives. So, that’s nice of her.
To escape, they board a train where they meet a group of refugees, who definitely aren’t crisis actors. Except, the train gets stopped by Croatian soldiers where one of the refugees is revealed to be a part of the hunt. Shocking, I know. After the hunter offers them a head start to get away, Gary takes a grenade from him and kills him with it…. Crystal then gets taken to a refugee camp where she meets another captive: Don. Soon after, Oliver, a US ambassador from the Zagreb embassy, comes to get them out of the country. That is until Crystal kicks him out of the car and runs him over… Damn.
Jackrabbit meets the boxturtle
What reveal could possibly top that? How about Crystal and Don finding Gary, dead in the boot with a knife in his head next to a box that says bribe money. Sometimes subtlety really is overrated. Then out of nowhere, Crystal tells Don the story of the Jackrabbit and box turtle. Don’t know this story? Well it’s the same as the tortoise and the hare except after losing the Jackrabbit murders the turtle, his wife and family. Damn, that’s dark. She also mentions how the Jackrabbit always wins just as she removes the knife and the pig reappears.
The Hunted become the Hunters
Crystal and Don then drive to Oliver’s intended location: the pillbox from the beginning where the least expected twist occurs. The passengers on the plane are the hunters…. I know I’ll give you a moment to process that. Long story short, Crystal and Don kill Richard, storm the bunker and nearly get the hunters to kill each other in the crossfire. Instead, Crystal murders them one by one until Don tries to convince her to spare Liberty because she’s a woman.
When Liberty says no, Crystal kills her as well before wounding Sgt.Dale to get Athena’s location who just so happens to be calling Don over the radio. Shock twists everywhere. Instead, Crystal kills Don and tortures Dale to get Athena’s location before killing him.
Is the Hunt a joke to you?
Then in a sickening twist, the whole text chain and the hunt are revealed to be a joke. However, it got leaked on the internet thus creating Manorgate. After all their careers are ruined, the hunters decide to make Manorgate real to get back at those responsible for spreading the conspiracy. Also, Athena (Swank) personally wanted Crystal on the Hunt and named her Snowball (get it? Animal Farm references!) For context, Athena is the mysterious
The Hunt comes to an end
Finally, the showdown between Crystal and Athena comes. Athena asks if Crystal believed Don was part of the Hunt which she then neither confirms or denies. Crystal believes she was a case of mistaken identity but that doesn’t stop the two women fighting. If you’re squeamish, skip the next bit? Why? Both women impale themselves on a food processor. Athena then confesses why she calls Crystal ‘Snowball’. Because she spreads deception for her own gain which isn’t even remotely close to Snowball in Animal Farm.
Athena then succumbs to her injuries but Crystal uses a blowtorch to cauterise her wounds before taking Athena’s clothes, a champagne bottle and a dog(?) on board her private jet. After saying she wants to go home, the flight crew oblige and the same waitress from the beginning offers caviar yet she still hasn’t had it.
Political reaction to the Hunt
Right, to begin my analysis of the Hunt I’m going to talk about the reaction to the Hunt. So, as I mentioned in the introduction the Hunt sees a group of wealthy liberals hunting and killing right wing republicans. Obviously, this point was always going to cause controversy especially because of the fact the film was released when a certain former Apprentice host was president. Yep it was that long ago. Anyway, the right reacted with utter horror (who could have seen that coming) despite the fact the film takes as many shots at the left as well. But in all honesty, it goes without saying that making any film involving politics is going to be a divisive one. When the director says he didn’t mean to cause controversy with the Hunt, I’m only slightly sceptical. So, to summarise this point, politics in film causes controversy. What else is new?
Conspiracy Theorists in the Hunt
The next part of my analysis of the Hunt is how the film satirises conspiracy theorists. Now, the Hunt is hardly the first film to make fun of conspiracy theorists but it is one of the funnier ones. Yeah, it felt a bit weird saying that. When Crystal and Gary get on the train, Gary starts spouting nonsense about crisis actors. What are crisis actors? People you hire to make a fake crisis seem real. Ok, yes while Gary turns out to be right in the end Crystal and the film take great pride in how stupid that sounds. But that’s why the joke works. Everytime a conspiracy theorist is shown in a film they are always the butt of the joke. Yet, this proves that once in a blue moon maybe we should listen to conspiracy theorists. Actually scrap that thought…..
Performances in the Hunt
To conclude my analysis of the Hunt I’m going to discuss the performances of Betty Gilpin and Hilary Swank. Swank is typically excellent in the film especially given the fact the only real thing we see from her in the beginning is pulling a guy’s eye out with a high heel. Damn, there’s hating republicans and then there’s Athena Stone. But where both performances work at their best is the final confrontation between Athena and Crystal. Ok, apart from the very silly and brutal double food processor spot, the scene is very well done. Also, the scene of Athena confessing why she called Crystal ‘Snowball’ is very good but incorrect given the context of Snowball in the Animal Farm novel. Also, Gilpin becoming everything she tried not to be by taking the plane out of the Hunt is phenomenal.
To summarise the Hunt, the film that caused a lot of backlash that nobody saw because of a world event that I’m not sure anyone has heard of. Anyway, a decent film to kill (joke not intended) 90 minutes of your time on Netflix.
Overall Rating: 6/10 – Reasonable
Content Warning: Severe Violence and Gore, Severe bad language, Mild alcohol and drugs references, severe frightening and intense scenes
Target Audience: 15+