By Bradley Lane
In September of 2019, following two back-to-back mass shootings as well as online criticism from the president of the United States, Universal decided to pull the ultraviolent political satire film, The Hunt from their release schedule indefinitely. However, just a few months later in February of 2020, a trailer for The Hunt released. This time advertising a March release, and with a marketing scheme that revolved around leaning into the controversy it caused last year, more than likely attempting to ride the zeitgeist of the 2020 Democratic Primary race.
This becomes thematically relevant to The Hunt when it is revealed that it aims to skewer both sides of an extremely polarized political landscape. Unfortunately, writers Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse’s execution of those ideas never moves past hollow platitudes and vague references to actual politics. The Hunt is an exercise in imagining what if one of those crazy conspiracy theories that permeate the darkest reaches of the internet, were actually true. In that imagined situation, a wealthy group of coastal elites kidnap and hunt a group of who they deem, “deplorable,” a la The Most Dangerous Game.
Director Craig Zobel lends the film a unique look and feel that distinguishes it from the usual horror comedy fare. He creates a great amount of tension throughout the film and his handling of the action across The Hunt is top notch. However, Zobel adds only polish to what is a fundamentally broken screenplay.
What begins as a promising, even clever political satire about the hyper-partisan nature of modern discourse slowly develops into a film about nothing. The script sets up a bunch of interesting ideas that never reach a clear conclusion. It leaves The Hunt feeling like nothing more than wasted potential.
AUTHORS’ NOTE: I saw this film in theaters over the weekend, but with the recent COVID-19 crisis, it is not recommended you go out to theaters to see any film. However, because of this Universal is releasing its slate of films currently in theaters, online and available to rent this Friday. These films include The Hunt, Trolls: World Tour, Emma, and one of my favorite films of the year, The Invisible Man.