Initially scheduled to be released at the tail end of summer 2019, Blumhouse’s controversial new thriller The Hunt was then abruptly shelved by Universal, a cancellation which came in the wake of the Dayton and El Paso mass shooting. Considering the film’s subject – a group of wealthy liberals set out to hunt a group of right leaning rednecks for sport – it was only a matter of time before the big Cheeto in chief got involved in this whole saga. Trump referred to the film in several tweets calling it “racist” without knowing what it was really about, which let’s face it, was a surprise to nobody.
Directed by Craig Zobel and co-written by Lost and HBO Watchmen writer Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse (The Leftovers, Watchmen), The Hunt is based on the 1924 short story “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell and stars Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank and Ike Barinholtz.
The story follows 12 strangers who after being drugged and transported on a private jet, wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are or how they got there, but it soon transpires that what the group has in common is their right wing political stance. As they are picked off one by one in “The Hunt”, the group must escape their captors or die trying.
Enter Crystal (an asskicking, scenery-chewing turn from Gilpin). Unlike the majority of those hunted, Crystal appears to have worked out what’s happening around her. Outsmarting those who underestimated her, Crytal is hellbent on finding the mastermaind behind this whole enterprise.
Zobel presents a brilliantly acted and undeniably thought-proving slice of social commentary about the current state of political discourse. With frequent references to Hillary Clinton’s, admittedly ill-advised “basket of Deplorables” comment from the 2016 presidential election campaign, Zobel and his writing team appear to have their pulse firmly on the political zeitgeist.
Whilst wearing its liberal credentials firmly on its sleeve, The Hunt appears far more concerned with tackling the most important subject at hand: can paranoia generated by outlandish right wing conspiracy theories really lead us to the worst possible path. Those in the know will remember the infamous, and now completely debunked, “Pizzagate” conspiracy which saw a fairy innocuous pizza restaurant’s reputation forever tarnished by an accusation of being at the centre of a child trafficking ring.
Packed to the rafters with subtext and a certain degree of black humour, The Hunt hits two birds with one stone by bravely exposing both sides of the current political discourse. While it might not be for the faint hearted amongst us, this is a smart, well acted and brilliantly put together horror thriller from Blumhouse’s ever expanding stable.