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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Review: The Hunt

Director: Craig Zobel
Screenplay: Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof
Year: 2020

Originally scheduled to be released in September 2019, “The Hunt”, a collaborative effort between Blumhouse Productions and Universal Pictures, was pushed back because of the controversy that developed around it. Mass shootings that took place in the United States sometime before its release and President Donald Trump publicly criticizing the topic of the movie were enough to push the breaks on its release. All this commotion, more than affecting it, served as promotion given the wide media attention it got and that was even used in its promotional poster.

In “The Hunt”, a group of 12 people wake up in an unknown place and with no idea of how they got there. Not much time has to go by for them to realize that they were put in this place to be part of a hunt where they are the prey. All of them try to find the reason why they were chosen to take part in this hunt while they try to survive.

A good deal of the controversy generated by “The Hunt”, more than by its violence, come from it socio-political commentary that is not even what many people assumed it to be and what gives birth to the promotional campaign that suggests that the critique the movie was receiving come from people that have not seen it. The truth is that director Craig Zobel (“Compliance”) and screenwriters Nick Cuse y Damon Lindelof (“Watchmen” mini-series) critique both the liberal and conservative groups and, like with most of the movie, it lacks a clear message.

The screenplay for this movie isn’t overflown with originality, as this idea is something we have seen in movies such as “The Most Dangerous Game” or the awful comedy “The Pest”, as well as similar ideas in “The Hunger Games” and “Battle Royale”. What is interesting from the screenplay is the boldness from the writer to change the protagonist a few times and to always keep plenty of uncertainty in the air about the protagonists and what happens around them. On the other hand, the main characters lack a good development and only stand out by virtue of their good interpretations, particularly that of Betty Gilpin (“Stuber”) and Hilary Swank (“I Am Mother”), rather than by what the characters offer. 

Where this movie really shines is in the gore, which doesn’t take long to appear and that remains constant throughout its runtime. The visual effects, practical as well as digital look great and make every moment of violence look extremely painful. Accompanied by a fast-paced rhythm, plenty of violence, and stretches of comedy that are not always as effective as they intend to be, the gory moments are the best thing this movie offers. 

“The Hunt” proves to be an entertaining and violent movie but raises questions about the reason for the controversy that its release generated. While its screenplay has plenty of holes and the characters are not well developed, the movie benefits from its fast pace, excessive violence and great gore to, along with some comedy parts, remain interesting. More than by its quality or sociopolitical satire, its success will be based on the controversy around its first attempt at releasing and by the COVID-19 pandemic that hindered its second attempt at being released in theaters and sent it straight to digital platforms.

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