The Hunt Review

In the Steve Coogan genius comedy “I’m Alan Partridge”, Alan once famously pitched his ideas for a new TV show to the chief commissioning editor of the BBC in a much-quoted comedy scene, an excerpt of this is as follows.

Alan Partridge: Right, OK. ‘Shoestring’, ‘Taggart’, ‘Spender’, ‘Bergerac’, ‘Morse’.  What does that say to you about regional detective series’?
Tony Hayers: There’s too many of them?
Alan Partridge: That’s one way of looking at it. Another way of looking at it is, ‘people like them, let’s make some more of them’.

Battle Royale, The Running Man, Series 7: The Contenders, The Hunger Games and The Purge.  What does this tell us about films based on the hunting of humans for sport and entertainment? 

Anyway, The Hunt is a new action/black comedy from director Craig Zobel. It’s based on a short story entitled “The Most Dangerous Game” and is being released under the banner of Blumhouse Productions, a name which will be recognisable to many horror fans out there.

The Hunt’s premise is that ordinary folk are hunted down by some rich Liberals who see them as undesirable to society. I guess it was time we Liberals got a kicking!

The hunted are dropped off in an unknown place and are then chased down through various means until hopefully, none remain. This is all organised and run by the mysterious Athena and her motley bunch of holier than thou liberal army.

I always thought that there were no better horror films in terms of opening with a bang than the Saw franchise or the Final Destination franchise, but the Hunt certainly gives them a run for their money.

Within the first 15 minutes, we’ve seen some tasty gore and a good degree of death, so much so that you wonder how many characters are going to be left soon and the film doesn’t pause for breath at all from then on.  

It’s a foot-to-the-floor kind of film, a fun adrenaline-filled bloody romp that clocks in under an hour and a half and, looking at it from a base level, it works well. The deaths are satisfying, the cast are entertaining, the comedy is dark and grisly and the pubs are still open by the time you get out.

Betty Gilpin is excellent as the slightly unhinged Crystal and Hilary Swank pleasantly surprises as her nemesis, the fight scene between the two characters provides laughs and plenty of well-choreographed action.

But I guess it’s meant to be seen as more than this, in the directors own words “it’s a satire on the political divide in the United States” and the clues are spread pretty thickly throughout the film.

The Hunt more than hints at the way social media can exaggerate or create ‘fake news’ and also highlights the snobbish nature of the self-righteous and privileged in society. It doesn’t take a genius to cut to the core message of the film and at times the film clumsily takes pot-shots at both sides of the political divide.

Although the film is a highly unrealistic take on a possible outcome for the society we all take part in, the themes feel relevant and very zeitgeisty. Don’t be too concerned about getting caught up in the message of The Hunt though, it’s essentially a fun and gory cat and mouse escapade – and an entertaining one at that. 

This coronavirus ain’t going to kill us off – but these rich, liberal assholes might just manage it.

Andrew Campbell

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