Yes, Universal’s “The Hunt” is as outrageous as advertised.
Liberal elites do, in fact, hunt “deplorables” to the death. That wasn’t Fake News. The problems with “The Hunt” go beyond that provocative premise.
The film’s ultra-violence isn’t illuminating, satirical or even remotely smart. It’s all surface level tics, surprisingly aimed more at the Left than the Right.
The biggest flaw? The movie has nothing of consequence to say about the current Left/Right divide, and the third act may be the worst of any film in recent memory.
And the dumb… boy, does it hurt.
A grisly introduction segues to the heart of the story. A group of strangers, some straight out of Redneck Central Casting, find themselves in a barren field with gags in their mouths.
They uncover a weapons cache and quickly put it to use. They’re under fire from unseen foes, and the enemy is shooting to kill.
Characters vanish in gobs of gore. One recognizable face gets “unrecognizable” within the first 10 minutes of the film. Maybe less.
It’s kill or be killed, and one of the hunted stands tall above the rest. Crystal (Betty Gilpin) would make Jason Bourne cry for Mommy. She’s a tough Mississippi gal sly enough to survive the initial assault. Could she discover the evil forces behind “The Hunt?”
So far, so grindhouse, down to the deliciously bombastic score. The deaths are quick and comical, with violence as envelope pushing as any horror film. This IS a Blumhouse production, remember? The tone is coal black and merciless, with a few smart comic bombs dropped along the way.
This critic gasped over a throwaway gag involving “poisonous” soda pop.
The story has plenty of holes early on, and they multiply dramatically as the saga unfolds. That leaves us with the gory kills and the satirical swipes promised during the pre-release uproar.
The liberal hunters take turns outwoke-ing each other, often to comic effect. Twitter conservatives know the drill, but most audience might be startled by a screenplay tormenting these virtue signalers.
“He probably uses the N-word,” both publicly and privately, one liberal hunter says of his recently killed “prey.”
When someone cites NPR they quickly realize the “problem” with the reference. It’s mostly staffed by, gasp, “white people.”
“We’re the f***ing worst,” they conclude.
Again, anyone following Ben Shapiro or Nick Searcy on Twitter hears sharper gags daily. They still land as intended, and are welcome in an era where liberal comics treat the woke mob with reverence (if not outright fear) Meanwhile, a few of the scrambling “deplorables” are jerks, borderline racists, or both.
Hey, if “South Park” can tease both sides, this approach is more than fair.
Just when the action should get interesting, “The Hunt” takes a series of head-scratching detours, the kind that may leave permanent scars on your scalp. The film eventually gives context to the titular “Hunt,” and the reveal proves incredibly dense.
We’re talking Lloyd Christmas-level dumb.
Poor Hilary Swank, whose role powers the film’s finale, is left looking like she signed on to the project after losing a bet.
A quick spoiler alert is in order for the following paragraph, which helps explain the “Dumb Factor.”
We learn that some business executives lost their jobs after one of their anti-Trump texts went public. In the real world, the only folks who might face consequences for that either re-enact ISIS videos or attempt to bring down duly elected presidents.
Yes, “The Hunt” can be both dumb and dishonest at times.
Still, the conservatives who panicked when the plot first leaked got it mostly wrong. The film is harder on the Left than the Right, and we’re clearly rooting for the Red State Team. Yet the bipartisan mockery yields few credible results.
The third act, by comparison, is an abomination. Imagine a “make it stop”-a-thon that sheds no light on our cultural bickering.
That leaves screenwriters Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof (“Tomorrowland”) enough time to explain the context behind “The Hunt.”
Here’s where “The Hunt” completely collapses.
The back story is absurd. Ridiculous. Nonsensical. Whatever B-movie glory “The Hunt” achieved up until this point evaporates like smoke from a 19th century camera flash.
“The Hunt” infamously got yanked from its September 2019 release date after it became the latest cultural hot potato.
The actual film doesn’t live up, or down, to that infamy. It’s too intellectually challenged to have any impact at all.
HiT or Miss: “The Hunt” starts with grindhouse panache but slowly succumbs to its monumentally dumb narrative.