WatchALTER’s review published on Letterboxd:
The controversy-marred THE HUNT has finally found its way to an audience. But after seeing the film, was all that controversy worth it? Not really.
More bark than bite, THE HUNT is a fun, funny, blood-soaked action thriller that uses political jabs across the entire political spectrum to make its point that the country is better when we’re somewhere in the middle. Along with that, THE HUNT is at its most interesting in looking how many films of today are taking the 1932 horror classic THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME’s template, and updating with an “eat the rich” social commentary. Films to keep an eye on that explore similar themes to THE HUNT include READY OR NOT, BACURAU, and YOU’RE NEXT.
Films to check out if you liked THE HUNT:
The Most Dangerous Game (1932)
You’re Next (2011)
Ready or Not (2019)
Villains (2019) — currently on Hulu
The Platform (2020) — currently on Netflix
If you want to check out more of our thoughts, please read on below:
Where to start on the troubled THE HUNT?
The film was meant to be released in 2019, but due to its provocative themes — “MAGA-deplorables,” “liberal elites,” if you’re reading this, you likely know the story — the film riled up such a political-centric discourse that the film was “cancelled.” Quite literally, with its release being scrapped altogether shortly before the film’s planned wide release in theaters.
However, horror fans rejoiced (at least the ones who egg on controversy) when it was announced that the film would be returning in the public consciousness, and hitting theaters on March 13th. Well… then… the virus happened causing a global quarantine.
Alas, after starting and stopping for over 6 months, Universal has finally decided to drop the film onto video-on-demand platforms to be rented for not much more than the price of your typical movie ticket. So after all this chaos, was all the fuss worth it?
In the opinion of the ALTER team - yes and no. Ultimately, more than anything else, THE HUNT is a blood-soaked film entirely meant to use satire (and sometimes bordering on farce) to attack countless talking points on both sides of the political spectrum. Yes, liberal elites get together to hunt the MAGA-deplorables. Yes, both sides come out of the film getting roasted for their unwillingness to ever consider the other’s side. But along with this, the film is so obvious about its targets that the jokes land, but don’t always bite. There’s verbal jarbs lobbed about one side being a bunch of “snowflakes,” and another about the other side is a bunch of 4chan-obsessed conspiracy theorists. THE HUNT is meant to infuriate any and everyone.
Rather than getting bogged down with the literal politics of the film, THE HUNT is the most interesting and exciting in regards to its place in horror’s long-standing use of violent satire to skew modern society. In fact, one could see THE HUNT as modern retelling of 1932’s THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME — where a man hunts people down on an island for sport. While that film never aspired to be entirely reliant on social commentary, it nonetheless set up a way the horror genre can show humans at their worst. And what’s worse than watching a rich person (or people) hunt the (perceived) lower class citizens? That film’s cultural success pointed to how audiences will root for the working class, the average person against the wealthy elite so bored in their extravagant lives that they have to kill the “lesser” folk for their entertainment.
We see this storyline — people hunting people — throughout cinema history in films like ZODIAC (David Fincher) and BACURAU (Kleber Medonca Filho). The horror genre has explored it too. Adam Wingard’s YOU’RE NEXT, Radio Silence’s READY OR NOT and Michael Haneke’s FUNNY GAMES use the horror genre to reflect on the fractured divides amongst people worldwide.
THE HUNT changes things up by not only positing that the rich are as vapid and vile as they seem, but their prey (be that working class people, or in this case, republicans) are also just as deranged and problematic as the hunters. Obviously, by the end of the film, none of it means all that much. The central heroine — played by the awesome Betty Gilpin — ends up being a more moderate figure than her one side or the other compatriots. The parting message, when all the blood has been shed and both sides are left to die, is that if we don’t all begin to get a lot more civil with each other, things are going to get a whole lot worse. It’s because of this satirical, on-the-nose slant that horror films can provide that many other genres can’t, that THE HUNT (and others like it) succeed.