Story: A dozen or so strangers have woken up in a strange location, an unknown locale they’re unfamiliar with, but they can see a cache of firearms nearby. No one is sure what is going on, but they can see some firearms and everyone in the group is familiar with guns, especially the enhanced protection they provide. A little small talk reveals they might be strangers, but they share a common bond or at least most do, as they’re all on the right wing spectrum of the political scale. When violence erupts and it becomes they’re not alone, it starts to look as if the political divide is what landed them in danger. As bullets fly, lives are lost, and an intense chase begins, the survivors piece together that liberal elites have conjured this human hunt. But Crystal (Betty Gilpin) couldn’t care less about politics at the moment or even why she was brought here to be hunted, as she is busy turning the tables on the people tracking her down. As both sides rack up kills and pressure mounts, who will survive this very personal and very lethal hunting trip?
Entertainment Value: The Hunt was able to gain a lot of press after a backlash from conservative groups in the wake of the original trailer, but the movie itself turns out to be a flaccid, forgettable picture. The film was delayed for months after the social media outrage, then limped to a direct to video release. The premise is what we were shown in trailers, a group of liberals kidnap and hunt a bunch of conservatives, but whatever promise there is for the concept, is wasted here. The political element is never hit hard, as the filmmakers opted to take a centrist stance and that weakens most of the impact. The theme is how divided the social/political landscape is, yet The Hunt has no insights or even satiric insights. Instead the movie trots out worn stereotypes on both sides of the aisle and chickens out from more incisive or interesting narrative choices. I appreciated some of the kills, but otherwise The Hunt is a total dud.
While there isn’t a lot I liked about this one, the cast is deep and can be fun to watch, despite the poor material. Of course, that also makes me wonder how much better this concept could have been handled, but at least the performers are solid. Despite the political content and violence involved, the tone is over the top in most scenes and the cast matches that, with some ham handed efforts. Out of the ensemble, Betty Gilpin has the lead and she is the most memorable presence. She still channels some over the top moments and cheesy quips, but brings passable dramatic tone at times as well, when needed. You can tell she is trying to make the best of the script and elevate her character, but she can only do so much. Even so, a lesser lead likely wouldn’t have been able to extract even this much from the material, so there’s that. The cast also includes Ike Barinholtz, Glenn Howerton, HIlary Swank, and Emma Roberts.