Craig Zobel (studio)
1h 30mins (length)
12 March 2022 (released)
17 March 2020
The Hunt has been surrounded by controversy over its political content ever since its original release was shelved in September, and after a completely new marketing campaign, the film has finally arrived in cinemas.
The Hunt follows 12 strangers - played by the likes of Emma Roberts, Justin Hartley, Ike Barinholtz, and Betty Gilpin - who wake up in a clearing with gags around their mouths.
They have no idea where they are or how they got there, but they soon discover they are being hunted for sport by a group of elites.
However, the tables are soon turned on the hunters when Crystal (Gilpin), a military veteran from Mississippi, fights back and begins picking them off one by one.
If you're expecting The Hunt to be a simple gruesome horror, you will be disappointed, because it's not scary. It wasn't intending to be. This is an over-the-top political satire that uses horror to hammer its message home. It's also surprisingly funny, quirky, and odd.
The backlash began last year following the release of its first trailer which made it seem like the film was just about liberals killing conservatives for fun, but it turns out there is much more to it than that.
The Hunt addresses the divide between America's extreme left and right but doesn't take sides and the conservatives fight back. Writers Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof have a lot they want to say about the political climate, with them poking fun at those with extreme views on either side and the ridiculousness of assuming you know how someone votes based on where they live or how they speak or dress.
The words "Republican" and "Democrat" are never used, but it's very easy to tell which side a character is on because they are all rather cartoonish stereotypes. Their comments are mostly played for laughs and to make it instantly obvious what party they support.
We get slightly more character development once there are only a few left, but even then, it's still on the thin side. That means the audience, no matter their political leanings, can't help but support Crystal, because you spend the most time with her and she's the only one who doesn't seem like a complete idiot.
Considering its serious anti-hate message, director Craig Zobel interestingly decided to go for an insincere, quirky tone, particularly towards the end, which feels at odds with the material. However, the lightness means we don't feel beaten over the head with the message and it's a fun watch.
That is largely down to GLOW's Gilpin, whose character simply does not want to be there. She carries the film and provides a lot of laughs, thanks to her incredible facial expressions. You don't normally get to see such reactions on film!
The Hunt will still be divisive to some viewers, particularly if they have an extreme political view.
The film has an uneven tone and could have done with honing its message, but it is still very bloody, silly, and ultimately entertaining.