"The Hunt": Director Craig Zobel's horror thriller following a group of "elites" hunting down "deplorables" has been cursed with bad timing. It was originally slated for theatrical release in September 2019, but Universal pulled it after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. It didn't see the light of day until March 13, just before governors began shutdowns in wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Its DVD release comes in the midst of nationwide protests and violence following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But despite the controversy that has surrounded the film, what resonates most after watching it is general confusion.
And creating confusion is the film's biggest accomplishment, for better and worse. The story takes wild turns once arriving at the "manor," where the "elite" co-workers commence their human hunting spree, faking out the audience with false starts several times. The message appears to be that no one can be trusted, not even the camera. This leads us to the movie's one saving grace: Betty Gilpin's captivating performance as the mysterious Crystal. She handles weapons and her captors with a smirk, coolly alternating between taking and causing destruction, even through a deranged retelling of "The Tortoise and the Hare."
Otherwise though, said confusion works against the film, largely due to the script and tone. It doesn't work as satire; what the commentary is aimed toward remains unclear. The clunky dialogue does it no favors (see: "Climate change IS real!" "She's unarmed, so have fun with it!"), eliciting as many cringes as its graphic violence.
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