‘The Hunt’ Leaves No Side Unscorched (BLU-RAY REVIEW)

Rating: B-

In hindsight, the funniest part about The Hunt is the furor that surrounded it. Originally slated for release last fall, it was shelved “indefinitely” after concerns about gun violence and outrage from President Trump and the conservative media ecosystem about its perceived anti-conservative messaging.

As it turns out, the outrage was little more than stereotypical right wing snowflakery. Which isn’t to say that The Hunt doesn’t feature anti-conservative plot points and characters. It absolutely does. However, those feature no more heavily than the anti-liberal plot points and characters. Truly, The Hunt is a movie designed to challenge and piss off everybody.

Director Craig Zobel, working with screenwriters Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof, has crafted a biting, no holds barred satire that skewers right and left alike—sometimes literally. It’s a hyperviolent romp that takes no prisoners in its quest to scorch the earth of the toxic political rhetoric permeating American society today.

A reworking of The Most Dangerous Game, the film follows a group of so-called liberal elite, led by Athena (Hilary Swank), as they hunt and kill conservative deplorables for sport. The villains get more than they bargain for, however, with the cunning and crafty Crystal (Betty Gilpin) who proves that she’s not going down without a fight.

The characters of The Hunt are little more than cartoonish caricatures of both liberal and conservative stereotypes. While this of course builds the film’s argument on a foundation of strawmen, it also works as a base-level comedy. The liberals are all absurdly effete, speaking in overly politically correct catch phrases as they sip expensive champions and eat caviar; the conservatives are all portrayed as backward anti-intellectuals who fall for any and every conspiracy that confirms their world view.

There’s no room for nuance in this satire, and nor do the filmmakers care. The goal here is to make everyone look as ridiculous as possible while providing an often bitterly hilarious take on the well-trod Most Dangerous Game formula. While doing so, it invites not only to laugh at our opponents, but also ourselves.

Even while the humor is about as base-level as you can get, it still works. It’s not exactly an intelligent film but it’s clever for what it’s trying to do. And the reality of the film’s release and the outrage from no less than the President of the United States only serves to hammer the points home even farther. It’s objectively hilarious that a film that lampoons the tendency of the right to believe any and every theory that supports their view was shelved because the right believed any and every theory of the film before it was even seen.

Though by no means a great film, The Hunt is an exceedingly fun film for fans of hyperviolent cinema. There’s nothing here you haven’t seen before, sure, but it works as a decent enough way to kill 90 minutes. Gilpin and Swank are particularly good as our main focal points to both sides. And without ruining anything, there are a few twists in this tale that cast the whole narrative into an even funnier light.

The Hunt, out now on Blu-ray, may not be the kind of movie that you’ll want to watch again and again, but it’s certainly good for single viewing. If nothing else, it gives us all an excuse to laugh at ourselves a little bit and enjoy a solidly decent action film.

The Hunt is now available on Blu-ray.

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