The Hunt is a strange movie from a promotional perspective. It was supposed to be part of the people-hunting-people fad from last year along side the excellent Read or Not. Then through no determinable reason this was the film to get all the negative attention that caused it to be delayed until now. This certainly helped the marketing team make a kind of standard looking film feel more important by hyping it up as a transgressive masterpiece. The bigger issue is now having to live up to that hype.
Now seeing the movie I don’t know if it does or not. More over I don’t know what the movie expected me to say because it was so weird.
The film starts simple enough. Rich people kidnap random people, give them guns and hunt them. Now the hunted must kill the people after them and escape before being killed. That’s a real simple and common setup for a movie but gets complicated and weird quickly.
The first complication is that the film is a black comedy. That isn’t bad. It’s just incredibly inconsistent about the type of black comedy it is. Part of the comedy is the same vein Ready or Not hit, incompetent people trying to use weapons they don’t get. Some of it is straightforward, like casually killing people then cleaning it up. Other times it’s more nuanced like a guy dressing up as a crisis actor and make a man go crazy only to blow up. But then it is weird where a woman falls into a spike pit, gets out fine only to be blown up and fall back into the spike pit with her guts out and she’s fine. It is throws expectations all about.
A second set of complications come when the hunted run into an Easter European military. It doesn’t seem to be trying to convey anything, they do that and are picked up by one of the hunters. So weird.
What both saves it and makes it all the stranger is Betty Gilpin as our main character Crystal. She gets introduced late which is strange, but her polite, bewildered, and straight forward demeanor helps carry the films odd turns. Only her performance is off. Less bad, more she gets something out of her character that is not on the page. It works, but boy is weird.
Actually most of the cast is pretty good. They all get how outrageous the film they are is and try to play it up. The hunted all try to act like the main character until they are killed, and that decision really works.
The action also works pretty well. It’s bloody when it needs to be, slapstick in other places, and has one of the best fights in a house I’ve seen in a while.
This is all positive stuff, but the political satire it tries to give does not work. More specifically it is confused. It wants to be making fun of the ignorant right wing gun people while also mocking how stuck up and ceremonial the left can be. The issue is that it says they are both dumb. Combine that with Crystal as a real apolitical character makes it feel like it has no actual voice of its own, and has me questioning who I am supposed to side with.
Once the final confrontation does come around and all is revealed it muddys the water more and makes me throw my hands up in the air and say I’m done.
If you want a strange time and gore check it out. Just don’t think about it.
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