Review: The Hunt

Betty Gilpin, lethal badass, in The Hunt. [Image from the movie’s Facebook page]

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Imagine you wake up without any knowledge of where you are and you’re at the mercy, it seems, of some elitist pricks who guzzle expensive champagne while they escort you to some undisclosed destination. You’re bound and basically unable to defend yourself, but somehow make it to first-class asking what the fuck is going on. The response to that? A shot to the eye, and a descent into death while another passenger, also clearly kidnapped, lies unconscious on the ground.

That passenger winds up to be Emma Roberts who emerges with 12 other people in a forest and before you can say “What” you’re under fire from all directions, racing to some kind of cover holding nothing but a weapon and the hope you may survive. The bloodshed is cartoonish, and arrives like a stampede of bulls in Pamplona, decimating pretty much all of the captives. In another part of the forest, another woman, Crystal (Betty Gilpin) makes her way to a gas station. An elderly couple (Amy Madigan and Reed Birney) hold shop… and prove Crystal’s fears — she’s a part of someone’s deadly game of cat and mouse. However… Crystal isn’t going down without a fight, and she is here to kick some serious [censored] ass.

The Hunt is inappropriate for all the right reasons. It calls out practically everyone while gleefully wreaking havoc on everything around its perimeter that has a pulse. It might be perhaps a bit broad in positing its contempt for both the alt-right and the liberal left, but it manages to sneak in some sly commentary on how a chat thread, once viral, might get blown up much farther than its intent and may decimate a person’s career. [In a way it is a warning to anyone dependent on social media and chat groups; you never can tell where that joke or meme you sent might land, so a word of caution, and chat away, safely.]

References to The Purge, Bacurau, and Kill Bill are all over the place but don’t detract from the overall enjoyment of this popcorn movie. I especially enjoyed an extended sequence involving Gilpin and none other than Hilary Swank (clearly on board and on the joke) as they perform balletic fight scenes in what has to be the most gorgeous kitchen ever. Seriously, I wanted them to take it outside, and please not ruin the cutlery or the fireplace. Their exhausted conversation is probably the best part of the film, delivered with deadpan humor in all the right places.

In short, The Hunt might not be a serious movie with a powerful message, but with all the madness around you, it’s almost daring you to get offended and then go on social media to rant and rave. See it for what it is — a star-making vehicle for Betty Gilpin –, and forget about it later.

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