Reviews

Review: The Hunt

Don’t believe the hype entirely.

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The Hunt is a movie you want to love. It's billed as a hyper-violent anti-PC satire that takes aim at both factions of our current political mess, the "Elites" and the "Deplorables." (Those are the movie's terms—progressives and right-wingers, basically.) It's a Blumhouse production, with Damon Lindelof weighing in on the script, so…well, it sounded pretty good to me.

The picture was supposed to have been released last September. But then, in August, within the space of 11 days, a pair of armed losers shot down and killed a total of 31 people in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas. Suddenly, putting out a movie in which snotty liberals hunt down and kill their lower-class inferiors seemed unwise. So Universal pulled it.

But the trailer was already out there, and it stirred up a lot of anger among people who, of course, hadn't seen the movie. Some recent grumblings from Twitter:

"That vile movie about hunting 'Deplorables.'"

"Tasteless and disgusting and every time I see an ad for it…it makes my blood boil."

"A movie about killing Trump supporters. This has to stop."

And now here it is, all 89 minutes of it, and everybody should really settle down. The picture is sometimes funny, but it's no way as witty as it needed to be. And the determination to mock both sides of the political divide equally ("We gonna be on Hannity!" "Climate change is real!") flattens the effect. The movie might have been more entertaining if the filmmakers had gone the traditional route and picked one side to back, lobbing out bombs with no concern for "fairness." The way it's turned out, the most enjoyable thing about the movie is the wild blood-and-gutsy violence, quite a bit of which is pretty excellent.

The picture begins in a private airplane, with a group of insufferable Elites on their way to the launch of the annual Hunt. Things get good right away with the jamming of a long stiletto heel into a man's eyeball. Then we cut to a field in which about a dozen Deplorables are regaining consciousness after having been drugged and kidnapped from various parts of the country. No sooner do these folks discover a crate full of weapons nearby than all hell breaks loose—gunfire erupts, heads explode, arrows rain down. ("What is this Avatar shit," one startled Deplorable wonders.)

Several of these people manage to escape over a barbed-wire fence, and soon we meet the movie's star, Betty Gilpin (GLOW), who plays a tall blonde abductee named Crystal. Crystal is from Mississippi and has done a tour of duty in Afghanistan and is thus well-versed in the butt-kicking arts. These come in very handy when she walks into a country store and finds herself compelled to tear the place apart in a pretty memorable way. (Gilpin gets a number of showpiece scenes, all of them fiercely lively; it's too bad she's been instructed by director Craig Zobell to maintain a single dull sourpuss expression on her face throughout the movie.)

You may be wondering what this picture is actually about. I sort of still am, to be honest. There's talk of a dark Internet rumor—the one that launched the Hunt—and there's an Elite ringleader named Athena (Hilary Swank, seriously slumming), and, let's see, there's a piglet, too (on hand to provide an Orwell reference). There's also a furious woman-on-woman smackdown at the end of the movie that would be so much better if it didn't go on for so, so long. And then the picture ends, leaving you to wonder what all the months of preliminary hype and hustle were about. A very old b-movie lesson, re-learned once again.

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  1. One film that lampooned both sides with great success is Team America: World Police. It also enjoys the distinctions of having the only puppet sex scene we will likely ever see and the only vomiting that ever made me smile, much less laugh till me sides hurt.

    1. yes that was a masterclass in lampooning everybody.

      1. “yes that was a masterclass in lampooning everybody.”

        I find it funny when people say this about stuff Trey Parker & Matt Stone do, because they don’t quite literally lampoon “everybody.” They never lampoon libertarians.

        “Both sides” maybe correct although a bit of a depressing reminder of how shallow our political debate is sometimes.

    2. Those two are the most brilliant and spot-on political satirists of this generation.

    3. There’s pretty good explicit puppet sex in Avenue Q. With music.

    4. ….durka durka

  2. Your analysis about political satire is wrong. Picking a side and sticking to it is never funny. It is choir preaching and it is tedious.

    South Park knows how to do political humor. They always skewer the side they agree with. They may have an ultimate winner or loser, but they make sure to Lampoon everything that needs lampooning.

    The distinction is about being intelligent. I have to have insight to make good political humor. Simply mocking one side is not funny. This is Rachel Maddow. This is the smirk after pointing out some foible of the other side. It is not entertaining.

    If the movie has a failing it is not because it chooses to go after both sides.

    1. Pretty much this. I do think though there are plenty of good movies that are completely narrative and myth driven that are hoping to take the viewer to a certain perspective and fail utterly or they don’t and make you think at that and are still incredibly good. Many times they aren’t subtle about it either. But anyway I largely agree with efforts to mock one side with a clear agenda, although in some cases that too can be funny in doses.

    2. It “goes after both sides” the way Leftists always do; it outright slanders any and all ideological opposition or criticism as stupid, violently aggressive and racist, while reserving for themselves only the lampooning that they “care too much about important issues”.

      Just look at the example Loder cites above. “We gonna be on Hannity!” versus “Climate change is real!”. It’s self-serving ego porn.

      1. @ThatSkepticGuy

        Yep its like how the Simpsons treated Lisa. She was right on everything, never wrong, but were critical of her for acting like she was right on everything and not talking down to the level of the stupid people.

        Or how SNL did mild jokes about Obama, in contrast to really vicious stuff they do to Republicans and explain it by saying “Obama is hard to make jokes about.”

        1. “I’m An Executive Order” was still funny, though.

  3. The picture is sometimes funny, but it’s no way as witty as it needed to be.

    Should have been written by Reason commentariat.

    I saw the preview – looks interesting enough that I might actually go see it.

    1. I prefer spending my time chatting on on sex graz

  4. I would worry that this would give the left ideas, but they’ve been doing this since 1793 and the War in the Vendee.

  5. I’m going to see it, but as usual I will be discreetly armed in the theater. Seems like a good place for a wing nut to go all elite.

  6. Kidnapped people regaining consciousness together in a remote area, with agents among them? Damon, you remaking Lost already?!

  7. I would be more interested if this were an original idea. Certainly it evokes the Most Dangerous Game. The Running Man. And the Hunger Games. But also less widely known is the Dan Simmons novel Carrion Comfort. I can see influences here. But ultimately they got the parody wrong it sounds like which would have been key since it wasn’t meant to be taken so seriously.

  8. Its amusing that people assume that the edit that came out was the same edit that was on the table 7 months ago before they watched 3 major woke movies torpedo themselves to oblivion. Given the eventual conceit of the movie is that the protagonist “isn’t a bad person like the other people being hunted” the idea that it refuses to take sides is absurd.

    1. They haven’t had time to shoot new scenes, but they certainly could have taken already-shot video, looped in new dialogue, and get THAT edited.

      This would explain why it seems so lackluster to the reviewers.

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  10. There is just way too much in Hollywood with making shows and movies about groups going out to commit some sort of violence against their political rivals. The shit is all about trying to get extremists to take action under the guise of “it’s just a show.”

    E.g. Amazon releases a Nazi hunting show about hunting Nazis in America shortly after the left goes on a bent that America’s right wing is dominated by Nazis and the left should take vigilante action to punch them wherever they see them.

    The fact people aren’t picking up on that in this forum surprises me.

    1. People pick up on. They just get gaslighted, either intentionally, or by passive-aggressive enabling such as the “Gee, come on, guys” hem-hawing Loder engages in here.

      1. So now even Nazis should be off limits as bad guys?

        Nazis?

        1. An anti-Trump protester carrying an American flag was smacked in the back of the head by an AntiFa for refusing to get rid of that fascist symbol.

          Who gets labelled “Nazi” today gets smeared with a very broad and indiscriminate brush.

  11. Woke lefties with a gun…man total fantasy. They would not know how to load a mag let alone how to shoot….ha ha

  12. Saw the movie yesterday. If anyone is “outraged” it should be the left, not the right. The “elites” pick out a dozen losers to hunt, and turn out to be bigger losers. No surprise there; I can’t think of a single movie ever made about an elite group or individual hunting people, where people don’t win.

    The main lesson it should teach, but won’t, is about seeing a movie before you go a’twitter about it.

  13. “Both sides”
    American politics is a spectrum.
    Most Americans are a mix of the bands of that spectrum.
    In real life, there are multiple sides.
    Except Twitterverse, they are echo chamber polarized homogenized all three million of them, like high school “in” cliques who pick and harass “outsiders”.

    Eh. I saw “The Hunt” Thurs 12 Mar 2020.
    To me it unfortunately did not flesh out any of its characters enough to really care about or take sides for or against either the blue state coastie elites or red state redneck flyover deplorables. I guess the clothes they wore and a few struck poses were supposed to tell us all we needed to know about their background or motivations. As pointed out above, Team America: World Police did a better job at that, with wooden puppets.

    Spoiler. The Manor’s hunting grounds were not bounded by the barbed wire fence. That was a ruse. As in the classic “The Torture of Hope”, the few who escape across the fence have just entered the outer ring of the hunting grounds.

    I got the impression that the twist was, the original Manor tale was an internet urban legend that the poor put-upon elites decided to make real as payback for being defamed, or something.

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