Crystal (Betty Gilpin) and 11 others awaken from a drugged stupor to find themselves in a secluded area with ball gags in their mouths. Opening a crate in a clearing they find weapons and a key to unlock their restraints, then the shooting starts. As they scatter and are mostly mowed down, they try to figure out why they are there. The only commonality between them seems to be they all have conservative views and haven’t been shy about sharing them on social media. They conclude they are hunted by a group of liberal elites, known as the Manorgate group, led by Athena (Hillary Swank). The Manorgate group are rumored by conspiracy theorists to be killing human game for sport and have been picking their victims for… reasons.
The Production: 4/5
It’s impossible to delve deep into the political bent of The Hunt within HTF’s confines and ban on discussing politics. I’ll say this tho: while the movie was originally delayed because of it’s obvious targetting of conservatives, both ends of the political spectrum look both ridiculous and unpalatable in the film. We’ve seen the essential plot before, from The Most Dangerous Game to The Hunger Games, but the ‘too soon’ angle of left/right politics is supposed to give a fresh perspective. It really doesn’t tho.
Ultimately, the only thing that the film really has to say is “Over-adherence to any political view is toxic and watching unlikable people die in gory ways is fun”. That’s a strategy I guess. It fits in with Blumhouse’s worldview but it seems like making a film about it in today’s charged environment only makes things worse rather than getting anyone to reflect on their own politics. And while Gilpin is sexy as she kicks all kinds of ass, it’s her ability to listen that ensures her survival as much as her training. “Listen more” might be a better message to take from the film but I fear that bit just gets steamrolled by the theatrics.
3D Rating: NA
While not up to 2020’s best on UHD with HDR, The Hunt strongly holds its own here on Blu. With a subtle palette reminiscent of 90’s action films it’s nonetheless sharp, colorful where it needs to be, and well shot to highlight the action and Gilpin’s talents.
The use of DTS 7.1 here is an interesting choice, with solid use of the extra width available to bring bullets and arrows wizzing through the seating area and great deep base for the explosions and heavier gunplay. I’d always prefer Atmos encodes but this is a fun bunch of gut punches.
Special Features: 3.5/5
There are 3 short extras that all play immediately after the film or via menu selection.
Crafting The Hunt – gives context for the idea for left/right politics as the driving motivation.
Death Scene Breakdown – is what it suggests.
Athena Vs. Crystal – highlights the use of a purpose built house / kitchen that could be used to let Swank and Gilpin really go all out fighting each other.
Overall I’m glad I finally got the see The hunt, as I was scheduled to see it theatrically just as the movie’s delay ran into the Corona pandemic. The thing is, it took a controversial angle and didn’t ultimately have much interesting to say about current state of politics. Sure, the deaths are gory fun and Gilpin is amazing to watch, but it never focuses in on any kind of point. Even the victims don’t get more than a line or two about why they were chosen and the Manor participants are all faceless buffoons save for Athena. It’s empty calories and it could have been so much more.
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