Blumhouse’s much-ballyhooed American political satire has finally seen the light of day after postponement due to a mass shooting last August, only to meet an unprecedented global pandemic this spring. Instead of making a dent at the multiplex, it’s one of a few major motion pictures to release early on VOD. Eschewing anything resembling subtlety or a desire to make any real point, The Hunt is a glib, self-satisfied quasi-horror romp designed to prod and provoke but only renders itself irrelevant by trying too hard for that sweet spot of zeitgeist. The film is gory, not scary, and is barely saved by a well-choreographed fight scene at the end and a captivating lead performance throughout. Betty Gilpin is a revelation as a politically neutral, take-no-prisoner war vet thrust in the middle of a sadistic Most Dangerous Game-style hunting safari for rich leftists. Her character is underwritten, her choices fascinating. She alone brings her character to life in the absence of much happening on the page.
It’s unfortunate that Gilpin is surrounded by glib stereotypes and one-dimensional definitions of the right and left. Here, all Republicans are rural, gun-toting blue-collar folk and all Democrats are snobby, wealthy Hollywood folk. Jason Blum and director Craig Zobel forgot about the inverse of those, I guess. What about the Wall Street uber-capitalists and upper-middle class who voted for Trump? What about the poor working class and struggling Millennials who voted Democrat? A film like The Hunt is dumbing down our national discourse by presenting only one brand of voter on either side of the spectrum. Dialogue is littered with buzz words and political catchphrases that make the film come across as dated before the credits have rolled. Character actors like Ethan Suplee and Ike Barinholtz do their best to liven things up, but they’re no match for a script that feels like a first or second draft. Between this and last year’s I Am Mother, it’s good to see Hilary Swank back at it again. Between this and last year’s I Am Mother, it’s good to see Hilary Swank back at it again. At the one-hour mark it’s looking like she might be wasted, and then a third-act womano-a-woman showdown kicks ass for a sustained ten-minute battle that proves to be a true banger. Whoever choreographed it deserves applause. It’s unfortunate I can’t say the same for much else beyond Betty Gilpin, though