Last summer, just before the original release date for “The Hunt,” a political satire starring “GLOW’s” Betty Gilpin, President Trump Tweeted, sight unseen, that it was “made in order … to inflame and cause chaos.” Being labelled “very, very bad for our Country!” by the most powerful man in the world the film got the political satire pulled from distribution. The President and the rest of us will finally get a chance to see what all the fuss was about when the movie hits screens this weekend.
Breathing the same bloody air as dystopian movies like “The Purge,” “The Hunt” is a violent b-movie that examines America’s current political divide in very broad strokes. Gilpin plays Crystal, one of a group of strangers—i.e. “deplorables”—kidnapped by Athena (Hilary Swank), the ringleader of a group of “liberal ‘cucks’ who run the deep state.”
“Every year these liberal elites kidnap a bunch of normal folks like us,” reveals Gary (Ethan Suplee), “and hunt us for sport.” The game becomes less lopsided when Crystal fights back, eliminating the “competition” one by one.
Horror films have long used guts and gore as allegories for modern societal woes. “Frankenstein” is a God complex story. “Night of the Living Dead” is a metaphor for the past coming back to wreak havoc on the future. Those, and others like social-politically themes “The Host” and “Videodrome,” or “Invasion of the Body Snatchers’s” look at conformity, among others, provide important and entertaining ways of looking at ourselves through a different lens. “The Hunt,” while entertaining in a b-movie kind of way, doesn’t really rise to the designation of important. Like so many things these days, the outrage that preceded its release was blown out of proportion.
There’s no allegory here. “The Hunt” is a literal representation of political polarization in a “Hunger Games”-style of haves and have-nots. It’s the 1% vs the 99% until a plot twist suggests that this may be an even emptier exercise in us vs them than originally thought. Most of what passes for social commentary—and it hits most every social situation from racism, class division, crisis acting, immigration, fake news, corruption, gender identification and cultural appropriation—is punctuated with a gun shot or a joke. One “deplorable” calls another a “snowflake” when he refuses to shoot her after she’s been injured. The punchline? A gunshot.
“The Hunt” is a gutsy (sometimes literally) grindhouse movie that only goes as deep as to poke fun at people who use “their” instead of “there.” But while it may not have the power, as the Pres sez, to inflame and cause chaos, it is an effectively gritty little thriller more interested in the fist-in-your-face action (delivered with the subtlety of an Alex Jones monologue) than getting in your face with its message.