They apparently have nothing in common, the people who wake up in the field by the forest, gagged but unbound, in their midst a wooden crate which contains weapons. Some of them immediately arm themselves, others are more reticent until the shots begin, snipers concealed somewhere at the treeline: the hunt is on.
Those who survive the initial assault scatter, some individually, some in groups, making their way across unknown territory to who knows where. Some are relatively public figures, a conspiracy theorist with a prominent online following, others feel they have no significance, and some believe they know what is happening: the hunt at the Manor, where the rich and powerful kidnap, track and kill “deplorables.”
Directed by Z for Zachariah‘s Craig Zobel from a script by The Leftovers‘ Nick Cuse and Lost‘s Damon Lindelof, The Hunt was originally scheduled for release in late 2019 but was postponed several times in the wake of mass shootings; finally given cinematic release and a swift shift to digital distribution in the wake of the global shutdown, horror studio Blumhouse have instead chosen to exploit and capitalise on the situation not once but twice.
Billed as a satirical thriller, The Hunt is tonally all over the place: the soundtrack sells it as arch high comedy, Deathtrap, Clue or Death Becomes Her, while the violence is constant, bloody and extreme yet presented gleefully, the audience invited to revel in it rather than be appalled as the various involved parties cull each other and every hope of escape turns out to be another booby-trapped double bluff.
Who is the intended target of this satire? Conspiracy theorists, gun nuts, anti-vaxxers, fake news peddlers, snowflakes, climate change campaigners, climate change deniers, libtards, immigrants, crisis actors, arrogant CEOs? Turns out it’s all of them, but satire works best as a sharp blade and instead The Hunt is a blunderbuss, hitting everything in sight indiscriminately, the collateral damage obscuring any point Zobel hopes to make.
The cast including at various points I Am Mother‘s Hilary Swank, Smallville‘s Justin Hartley, Green Room‘s Macon Blair, Evolution‘s Ethan Suplee and Carnivàle‘s Amy Madigan, they are too many given too little to do, taking a back seat to the bloodshed which blends aspects of Severance, Battle Royale, The Purge and a dozen other sources yet manages to bring nothing new to the table, The Hunt is a mediocre product reconceived as “controversial” in order to distract from its shortcomings.
The Hunt is currently available on digital download across multiple platforms