Star Rating:

The Hunt

Director: Craig Zobel

Actors: Emma Roberts, Ethan Suplee, Betty Gilpin

Release Date: Wednesday 11th March 2020

Genre(s): Action, Horror, Thriller

Running time: 115 minutes

'The Hunt' isn't based in reality, but it's making fun of it in a way that's desperately needed.

A group of people wake up in the middle of a clearing and find themselves being hunted for sport by another group of people. As they're picked off one by one, it emerges that those being hunted are right-wing conspiracy theorists and those hunting them are wealthy liberals. Welcome to The Hunt...

Right off the bat, it must be made clear that the plot synopsis you just read really on scratches the surface of what 'The Hunt' is really about, and it's smarter than that concept gives it credit. Really, what 'The Hunt' aims itself at is the divide in American society, and how ultimately futile it all is when both sides are just awful as the other.

On the one side, you've got a group of truly awful right-wing personalities made up of white nationalists, gun nuts, and the garden variety Fox News viewer that makes up the worst impulses of American society. On the other side, you've got a group of cloistered billionaire liberals who trade tweets with Ava DuVernay, argue whether it's problematic to have or not have a black person on their victim list, and generally meet each and every stereotype of a liberal elite that the other group thinks of.

This kind of broad, simplistic approach might smack of centrism, but it speaks to how painfully dull America is that it has to spread itself across two extremes, with one side ultimately wishing the other into existence and become symbiotic. One doesn't exist without the other. Without spoiling the rest of it, Craig Zobel's direction and Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse's script ping-pongs between screwball comedy and uber-violence in a way that recalls Paul Verhoeven in the late '80s and '90s, ala 'Starship Troopers' or 'Robocop'.

There are moments in 'The Hunt' where it drifts off-target and could probably have done with a tighter running time - maybe lose 20 minutes or so - but it's never far from a joke or a gruesome execution that you don't really notice these issues. Betty Gilpin gives a tough and able performance and the likes of Amy Madigan, Macon Blair and Hilary Swank all acquit themselves in their roles perfectly. It's not that they're all taking it so seriously, but that they're all so able and willing to go with the central concept that it works.

For those seeking an answer for the extremism in American society and the wider global implications, 'The Hunt' isn't it and nor does it have to be. It's not the responsibility of any piece of art or entertainment to ask or answer those kinds of questions. 'The Hunt' isn't based in reality, but it's making fun of it in a way that's desperately needed. That alone means that it's worth seeking out, and it's worth accepting it on those terms.