Pushed back from its September 27 release date last year, without any real reason given by Universal Pictures and Blumhouse, ‘The Hunt‘ finally finds an audience on VOD after a limited theatrical release – due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Promoting it as “the most talked movie of the year that no one’s actually seen” is a bit of a stretch, as a lot of people actually have never seen an ad for it in the first place. Unfortunately, Craig Zobel‘s (Z For Zachariah) newest feature isn’t worth all the fuss to begin with.

What looks like as if it could’ve been an obvious sequel to continue ‘The Purge‘-franchise, turns out to be a bit more clever, tongue-in-cheek and almost satirical when it comes to its ambiguous political commentary, but is done in a kind of very cheap looking and plotwise messy way. Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are, or how they got there. They don’t know they’ve been chosen – for a very specific purpose – The Hunt. Everyone’s heard of it, but what was thought to be a myth, is actually something that’s real. Normal people being hunted by the rich, but nothing is exactly what it seems, when the real reasoning behind it all rises to the surface with Southern femme fatale Crystal (GLOW‘s very own Betty Gilpin) headed towards the organiser’s manor.

Written by Nick Cuse (The Leftovers) and Damon Lindelof (HBO’s ‘Watchmen‘), the film seems to have some sort of message but surprisingly never choses a side when it comes to political or social stands. It tries to please too many different POV’s and thus kind of feels like a lost opportunity when just using gory kills for shock value. Why not go full out and really shock audiences? What the filmmakers really excel in, is their way of introducing and following certain characters in the first half hour to then just killing them off. Don’t root too hard for your favourite actors, they probably won’t even make it past the first 30 minutes. Wild is an understatement when victims get blown up because of their skin colour or just because they make a dumb decision. Or as caucasian gas station owners/couple Ma and Pop (played by Amy Madigan and Reed Birney) say, “We really are the worst“.

Cinematically paralleled kitchen fight sequence between big chief Athena (Hilary Swank) and Crystal, looks like the extended opening of Kill Bill Vol. 1‘s fight between Uma Thurman and Vivica A. Fox, which is one of the highlights of the film. With only a 90 minute running time, the film flies by, but is as forgettable as last week’s episode of ‘Neighbours‘. Great for streaming, but definitely not worth a visit to the cinema – perfect for an afternoon of self-isolation in these daring times and to escape to a world where people roam free, even if they’re being hunted for expressing their racy opinions on social media.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Review – ‘The Hunt’

Reviewed online. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 90 min.

PRODUCTION: A Universal Pictures release of a Blumhouse Productions, White Rabbit production. Producers: Jason Blum, Damon Lindelof. Executive producers: Nick Cuse, Steven R. Molen, Craig Zobel. Co-producer: Jennifer Scudder Trent.

CREW: Director: Craig Zobel. Screenplay: Nick Cuse, Damon Lindelof. Camera: Darran Tiernan. Editor: Jane Rizzo. Music: Nathan Barr.

WITH: Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, Ethan Suplee, Ike Barinholtz, Wayne Duvall, Amy Madigan, Reed Birney, Ethan Suplee, Emma Roberts, Christopher Berry.

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