The Hunt

The Hunt ½

Craig Zobel has done some incredible things in his career. Working on the sets of some of David Gordon Green's best films (re: his early ones), Zobel then broke out on his own as the director of the blistering true-life horror story Compliance, then going on to direct some of the best episodes of The Leftovers, the greatest television series ever made. That show brought him into the vortex of its creative mastermind Damon Lindelof, and the two reunited for the Zobel-directed, Lindelof-written The Hunt. Which is to say, there is no justifiable reason why this movie should be as overwhelmingly terrible as it is. This movie is so satisfied with itself, presenting a kind of backpatting pretentiousness that pours off every single frame. People like Terrence Malick get excused of that odious word "pretentious", but really this is the kind of thing that it should apply to. The Hunt is a movie that clearly thinks it is so smart, that it's really cutting right into the heart of the political tidlewave of contemporary America, and yet it does that by going for the easiest targets, by saying absolutely nothing new, interesting, or even remotely intelligent, and by caking it all in a genre exploitation gore fest that isn't even fun or exciting.

This movie is duuuuuuuuuuuuuuumb, and I hate to use that kind of word to criticize a movie but holy shit this movie is duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuumb. I'll admit that the way it plays with our perception of who will be the heroes of this thing early on is fun for a moment or two, but even that can't be that fulfilling because it pulls the trigger on its big swerves so fast that we don't even get time to sink into anything before it pulls the rug from under us and shouts, "wow, bet you didn't expect that!". This is just the kind of obnoxious movie that a bunch of white male teenagers would come up with in their Sociology class in 10th grade and somehow it not only got released as a major studio picture, but also generated a level of controversy so ridiculously outsized from what this movie actually is.

The Hunt is certainly akin to this year's (or last year's) version of The Interview; a bland, totally forgettable, totally unintelligent satire that makes reference to really sensitive powers that be in the political sphere who jumped the gun on thinking that any of this is actually significant in any way, and their premature response to it gave it a profile that it doesn't remotely deserve. This is a movie that will be forgotten instantly, only ever remembered as a trivia fact about its release being delayed. The trailer for the delayed release is about 90 seconds long and actually manages to contain a kind of wit and self-awareness that is so much sharper and more amusing than anything in this hollowed out shell of a "political satire". The movie mixes its messages so fast and loose, wanting to go after the right and the left, and eventually coming to a place where it never effectively goes after either. The understanding of the "game" being played here is barely comprehensible, a thinly drawn sketch that again calls to mind that description of teenage boys scribbling on the back of their homework, and the plot moves along so fast that it often feels like the movie is just trying to get it over with so we can hit the end credits and we can all go home. This shit is stupid.

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