“The Hunt” had a long and interesting road to playing in theaters.
The film was originally slated for release in September 2019, but was pulled from that release date due to backlash it received. The film’s controversial premise, which depicts everyday Midwest conservatives being hunted by rich liberal elites, caused quite the stir online, including a fire-stoking presidential tweet. This plot, along with the poor timing of advertising in relation to the mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, caused Universal Studios to rethink the film’s release and pull it from its schedule altogether.
However, the film’s marketing campaign kicked into gear again this February, advertising a release date of March 13. This new campaign capitalized on the controversial nature of the film. Rather than pulling quotes from reviews of the film, the new posters and trailers for “The Hunt” were plastered with quotes from angry people on Twitter. The film was pushed with the line, “The most talked about movie of the year is one that no one’s actually seen.”
“The Hunt” aims to be a humorous and resonating take on Richard Connell’s iconic short story, “The Most Dangerous Game,” but the end result is a lackluster, unfocused and bland attempt at political satire.
There isn’t anything necessarily awful about this movie; it just fails to provide anything worthwhile.
The characters in the film are almost all one-dimensional cardboard cutouts of the political ideology they’re assigned. There’s absolutely no nuance to any of their personalities, whether that be the rich liberal hunters or the conservative prey. The liberals are portrayed as wealthy, dumb aristocrats who barely know how to work a gun, yet still somehow manage to kill dozens of people. The conservatives are made to look equally as dumb, constantly discussing absurd conspiracy theories and their desire to be on “Hannity.”
With every character in this film made to look like an idiot, maybe the filmmakers were trying to say something about how polarizing and broken our current political system is. On its surface, the film appears to be portraying the conservatives as heroes, but upon any further analysis that ideal crumbles, as the film just dissolves into a messy plot with nothing real to present.
Beyond the characters, the film is also frequently overly violent. Granted, I've never been a fan of extreme violence in movies, but on several occasions "The Hunt" is just blood and guts for the sake of blood and guts. It's just aiming for shock value, which maybe it gets, but it certainly doesn't do the film any favors.
I suppose there is honor in avoiding a political side with the movie's themes, but they don’t provide any other message to make up for that decision. It’s just an hour and a half of people with different ideologies violently killing each other.
If you’re interested in seeing this movie, wait until it finds its way to a streaming service. It’s not worth spending money on in a theater.