Jacob Richardson | 15/04/2020
Serviceable and at times surprising, but satirically on the nose and frequently too expected.
A series of quote-unquote “normal” Americans are kidnapped by a group of Liberal Elites, drugged, and taken to the Manor House. There, they awaken with gags in their mouths, and to a box full of weapons. Their confusion quickly turns to understanding and dismay when they realise they are being hunted for sport by these so-called progressives.
The Hunt has a big list of stars in it. Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, Ike Barinholtz, Ethan Suplee, Emma Roberts, and more familiar faces crop up in this satirical Hunger Games. Director Craig Zobel uses these stars most effectively as a way to incorporate surprise into this film, switching the script up and frequently catching you off guard - particularly early in the piece.
That being said, this film is also remarkably unsurprising. With a relatively staid and standard plot, full of twists that you see coming a mile off, it does little to hold your interest or intrigue beyond the incredibly superficial. Zobel tries to offset this with a ‘blood and gore’ vibe designed to shock, but it is too infrequent and too amateurishly done to generate any real buy-in.
Visually this feels quite filmic. The fight choreography is also pretty good - particularly in a gory fistfight towards the end. But in the age of John Wick and Atomic Blonde, what would have been good choreography back in the day feels comparatively stock standard.
Indeed, this entire film feels somewhat stock standard. The unsurprising plot, bolstered by ‘shock’ tactics to try and generate some level of engagement, coupled with expected cinematography and expected choreography, and a cast coasting along, combines to deliver a film that never really takes off. At the same time, however, these pieces slot together nicely, as they have done so many times before, for a reason - and that makes this film expected, but watchable.
The only real issue is with the satire itself. The constantly hamfisted dialogue expositing on why liberals are so bad, and why normal folk are treated so poorly, feels like ramming a political ideology down the throat of everyone watching. It is painfully poorly done, and frequently leaves a sour taste in an otherwise perfectly adequate film.
The Hunt is perfectly fine, but there isn’t much to compel you to seek this out specifically.