By Seth Lukas Hynes
Starring Betty Gilpin and Hilary Swank
Resembling a politically-charged riff on The Most Dangerous Game, The Hunt is a taut, darkly-hilarious horror-thriller about a group of conservatives abducted for a literal manhunt in the woods.
The Hunt effectively satirises the present political divide by exaggerating both camps, with the liberal hunters and conservative prey each embodying broad stereotypes. The dialogue and performances are goofy without being overbearing, and Betty Gilpin anchors the film as Crystal, a focused straight-woman more concerned with survival than rants or crackpot theories.
The film is very well-paced: after the carnage-filled opening, the plot steadily reveals the depth of the “Manorgate” hunt conspiracy, and Crystal’s desire to fight back and confront its leader is a crystal-clear driving goal (pun intended). Crystal is introduced abruptly and feels out-of-place as a calm, distinctly moderate voice, but this impression is vindicated by a clever twist in the climax.
The action sequences are brutal, superbly-composed and full of grisly slapstick. The film ultimately explores false narratives in social media, and has a flashback just before the final act that introduces the main villain and shows the hunters’ research and preparations. While well-acted, this detour robs some of the impact from Crystal and the villain’s otherwise gnarly final clash.
The Hunt is a tense, thrilling action film and an amusing even-handed satire, and is available on DVD and iTunes.