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Review: The Thrill of ‘The Hunt’ Lies in Its Absurdity

March 12, 2020Ben MK

How much of what we read on the Internet is true? Like it or not, we live in a world where the court of public opinion is sometimes deemed more important than the court of law — but what happens when false news goes viral and those who consider themselves wronged have the power and money to take revenge?

That's precisely the premise behind Blumhouse's latest horror thriller, The Hunt, in which twelve complete strangers hailing from all across America (among them, Emma Roberts, Justin Hartley and Ike Barinholtz) find themselves kidnapped, drugged, and brought to an undisclosed location, where they soon learn that they're being hunted for sport. But even though they're each given the opportunity to take up weapons and defend themselves, will any of these unwitting players in this vicious game of life and death live long enough to uncover the truth about who is doing this to them — and why?

Caught in the middle of all the blood-soaked chaos is Crystal (Betty Gilpin), an ex-soldier from Mississippi who once served in Afghanistan but who now finds herself navigating a wholly different battlefield. Only this time, instead of fighting enemy insurgents she's forced to use every survival skill in her handbook to take out the seemingly ordinary citizens intent on putting a bullet in her head, shooting an arrow through her neck, or blowing her up with a grenade. Suffice to say, viewers looking for their fix of gory violence will find their fair share of it in The Hunt. But what makes the movie work is the satirical approach the filmmakers use to tackle the subject matter.

Despite the fact that similar thematic ground has already been covered by such films as 1994's Surviving the Game and 2010's Predators, director Craig Zobel and writers Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof manage to keep their twist on "The Most Dangerous Game" fresh by weaving in such hot-button issues as white privilege, cultural appropriation and gender politics. Of course, it doesn't hurt to have Hilary Swank chewing the scenery either. As Athena, the mastermind behind the hunt itself, the Oscar-winning actress is tasked with making the movie's primary antagonist relatable — and she does so with aplomb.

An action-packed exercise in absurdity, the result certainly won't cater to the tastes of all audiences. That said, if you're someone who likes their scenes of gratuitous, big screen brutality accompanied by a heaping helping of black comedy and a double dose of social satire, then The Hunt proves quite thrilling indeed.

The Hunt releases March 13th, 2020 from Universal Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of R for strong bloody violence, and language throughout. Its runtime is 1 hr. 29 min.

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