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Movie Review

In a Town of Hunters, a Maligned Man Falls Prey to Malice

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By Stephen Holden

  • July 11, 2013

In “The Hunt,” Lucas ( Mads Mikkelsen ), a disgraced kindergarten teacher suspected of being a pedophile, confronts his former best friend Theo (Thomas Bo Larsen) in a church on Christmas Day. “Look in my eyes,” he says to Theo. “What do you see?” Lucas naïvely believes that his true nature will reveal itself: in this case, his innocence.

Mr. Mikkelsen, who played James Bond’s nemesis in “Casino Royale” and who is Hannibal Lecter on the television series “Hannibal,” won a best actor award at Cannes in 2012 for his performance here. Handsome but with hooded eyes, he looks far from angelic. His plea resonates through this nightmarish story of an innocent man who becomes the victim of a small-town witch hunt. The movie, directed by Thomas Vinterberg from a screenplay he wrote with Tobias Lindholm, is easily Mr. Vinterberg’s strongest since “The Celebration” (1998), which also addressed pedophilia.

The life of Lucas, a much-loved teacher in a Danish hunting village, begins to come apart when Theo’s young daughter, Klara (Annika Wedderkopp), vaguely intimates to her teacher, Grethe (Susse Wold), that Lucas exposed himself to her. What the little girl has seen and quickly forgotten is a glimpse of pornographic imagery on an older brother’s iPad that in her mind has become confused with Lucas, on whom she has an innocent crush.

Even though Klara takes back an incriminating description that is coaxed out of her, the adults won’t let it drop. And before long, other children, responding to grown-up suggestions, help build a case against Lucas as a predator who lured children into his home’s nonexistent basement. Lucas is not jailed after a court inquiry, but villagers are still convinced of his guilt, and his life is in danger.

the hunt 2013 movie review

“The Hunt” is a merciless examination of the fear and savagery roiling just below the surface of bourgeois life. Because the film is set in a community of hard-drinking deer hunters, its comparisons of humans to the creatures they stalk run deep. An early scene of rowdy woodsmen drinking themselves insensate seethes with an undercurrent of potentially explosive violence.

The nightmare appears to come out of the blue. Lucas, who is recovering from a bitter divorce, has a new girlfriend (Alexandra Rapaport), whom he furiously kicks out of the house when she voices a tinge of uncertainty about his innocence. Instead of cowering in terror, Lucas confronts his accusers and fights back. But an irrational mob mentality has seized the village. Lucas becomes a pariah, expelled from civilized society, reviled by neighbors who throw rocks through his windows and prevent him from shopping in stores. When his teenage son, Marcus (Lasse Fogelstrom), stands up for him, the boy is attacked.

An unspoken question addressed by the movie is why adults so readily believe the words of confused young children. The self-righteousness of those eager to believe the worst is as galling as it is believable. The movie suggests that the solidarity of the village’s condemnation is a measure of individual uncertainty. It’s a matter of finding safety in numbers.

Very pointedly, the story is set in the months leading up to Christmas. The contrast between the villagers’ fear and hatred and the lofty spiritual ethos in the season of lights infuses “The Hunt” with an extra chill. The Christmas scenes bring to mind Ingmar Bergman’s “Fanny and Alexander,” in which wondrous enchantment collides with demonic religiosity. But “The Hunt” doesn’t know where to stop. It is undermined with a short, unsatisfying epilogue whose shocking final moment isn’t enough to justify its inclusion.

Mr. Vinterberg, like the French director Bruno Dumont, has a gift for evoking the atavistic side of human nature. Once Lucas is a pariah, the neutral expressions of his accusers can’t begin to camouflage what feels like a primitive animal cunning. Leaving a screening of “The Hunt,” I had the sense of making my way through a jungle crowded with other wild beasts, all of us on high alert.

“The Hunt” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian) for violence, sexual content and language.

A photograph of an actress who was incorrectly identified as Susse Wold that previously accompanied this review was published in error.

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‘The Hunt’ movie review

the hunt 2013 movie review

Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen delivers an astonishingly restrained and expressive central performance in " The Hunt ," an engrossing psycho-social drama by Thomas Vinterberg. With superbly calibrated emotion, action and narrative tension, the two create an atmosphere that's both banal and nightmarish, as one man's unremarkable life spirals into a Kafkaesque labyrinth of misunderstanding and suspicion.

Mikkelsen plays Lucas, a mild-mannered kindergarten teacher who is coping with a recent divorce, a custody battle over his young son, Marcus (Lasse Fogelstrom), and his own tentative steps back into the dating pool when he’s unexpectedly called into the principal’s office. What unfolds will be painfully unsurprising to anyone familiar with the stories that dominated news reports 20 years ago; what makes “The Hunt” more than a ripped-from-the-headlines tabloid story is Vinterberg’s attention to detail in meticulously setting up the events that so swiftly spin out of control. While the grievous tick-tock grinds inexorably on, Mikkelsen breathes impressive life and sympathy into Lucas, even behind the shield of eyeglasses and quiet Scandinavian reserve.

In fact, Mikkelsen's protagonist in "The Hunt" in many ways recalls his character in last year's historical drama " A Royal Affair ," in which he played a doctor trying to bring Enlightenment-era notions of rationality and humanism to 18th-century Denmark. Lucas, too, is on the side of logic and evidence in the midst of the fevered innuendo that grips even his closest friends. As much as "The Hunt" is an unsettlingly convincing portrait of one man's struggle against a single falsehood, it's also a study in collective hysteria, superstition and unconditional belief — in this case, in the shibboleths that children are always to be believed and that predators are easily recognized.

Because “The Hunt” is predicated on such a well-known hot button issue, it sometimes feels dated, its masterful storytelling and performances serving a cautionary lesson that — one hopes — viewers won’t need to re-learn. (In press notes for the film, Vinterberg noted that the roots of “The Hunt” lie in an encounter he had with a psychologist in 1999.) And, for all the superb control Vinterberg deploys in stringing Lucas’s tale along, he stumbles at the ending, which feels overhyped and unearned.

Still, “The Hunt” makes up for those quibbles by presenting audiences with a textbook example of classical cinema, wherein all the elements — crisp photography, astute editing, atmospheric sound and visual design and magnificent performances — come together in one simple but utterly riveting unified whole.

Mikkelsen seems to be everywhere these days — most notably playing the title character in the television series " Hannibal " — but Vinterberg's last notable film was 1998's " The Celebration ." With "The Hunt," he makes a return that bodes exceedingly well for things to come.

R. At Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema. Contains sexual content, including a graphic image, violence and profanity. In Danish with English subtitles. 111 minutes.

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What it's about.

It comes as no surprise that former Bond villain Mads Mikkelsen won Best Actor in Cannes for delivering on this challenging role. In this merciless thriller by Danish director Thomas Vinterberg, the ice-eyed actor plays Lucas, an out-of-luck high school teacher struggling to start a new life. After a bitter divorce, he returns to the close-knit community he grew up in to work as a kindergarten teacher.

A few weeks before Christmas, a child from his class, who has an innocent crush on the popular teacher, hints to a colleague that he had exposed himself to her. The young girl’s intimation galvanizes the small hunter’s town into a witch-hunt that leaves Lucas’ life hanging from a string. Trapped in the lies, the more he fights back, the more irrational the mob becomes. In all its brutal honesty, The Hunt is one of those rare thrillers that will haunt you for days. Extraordinary and thought-provoking!

Excellent movie which portrays how stupid society can be and how quick stupid people can jump to conclusions. You could argue that when it comes to an issue that involves themselves, a calculative person can be stupid too, as pseudo emotions cloud them. Sometimes you can’t be sure and you’re probably wrong by jumping the bandwagon.

Excellent movie, the power of rumors and prejudice.

This movie is an exploration of collective paranoia that can strike anyone without notice. Intense, moving, unjust, but so interesting.


A frustrating and disturbing film, but oh so good. It was more troubling to me than a horror/thriller. Not many actors can do what Mads Mikkelsen did here, going through different states of denial and defiance. Uneblievable film.

This is a really good movie pointing out the harsh realities of life, How easily a friend can turn into a foe. Indeed a thought-provoking film and to be honest is hard to go through.

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Intensely gory but fiendishly funny dark political satire.

The Hunt Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

No clear-cut message, but movie will give viewers

Crystal is admirable in the way that she's self-su

Extreme satirical violence, with heavy blood and g

Brief objectification of a woman wearing a reveali

Constant extreme language includes "f--k," "f--kin

Mention of Google. Pabst Blue Ribbon sign hanging

Cigarette smoking. Characters sip expensive champa

Parents need to know that The Hunt is a dark, extremely violent satire about a group of wealthy, elite liberals who hunt and kill a group of rural conservatives. It's incredibly graphic, with tons of blood and gore, exploding heads, bodies getting ripped in half, eyeballs being yanked out, etc…

Positive Messages

No clear-cut message, but movie will give viewers plenty to think, talk about. Guns and violence are a huge theme, as are ideas of pre-judging people, creating stereotypes, acting through hate and fear, rather than understanding and sympathy.

Positive Role Models

Crystal is admirable in the way that she's self-sufficient and highly resourceful, as well as strong and smart, but she also kills ruthlessly without consequences, and her character's past and motivations are kept under wraps. Whenever anyone asks her anything, a typical answer is "I don't care."

Violence & Scariness

Extreme satirical violence, with heavy blood and gore, many, many deaths. Characters kill each other ruthlessly without consequences. Stabbing in neck with pen, spurting blood. A high-heel shoe to the eyeball results in the entire eyeball, plus the optic nerve, being pulled out of a skull. Heads and bodies explode. Body ripped in half, entrails hanging out. Body impaled by spike. Head run over by car. Neck sliced. Pig shot and killed. Lots and lots of guns, plus grenades, knives, bows and arrows. Martial arts fighting, punching, kicking, etc. Landmines. Poison gas. Poisoned food. Characters hit with blunt objects. Characters gagged. Fall from height. Cauterizing cut with cooking torch.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

Brief objectification of a woman wearing a revealing outfit.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

Constant extreme language includes "f--k," "f--king," "s--t," "bulls--t," "a--hole," "c--k," "d--k," "bitch," "son of a bitch," "piss," and "goddamn," and "Christ" and "Jesus Christ" (used as exclamation).

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Products & Purchases

Mention of Google. Pabst Blue Ribbon sign hanging in store.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cigarette smoking. Characters sip expensive champagne. Characters mention being drugged.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Hunt is a dark, extremely violent satire about a group of wealthy, elite liberals who hunt and kill a group of rural conservatives. It's incredibly graphic, with tons of blood and gore, exploding heads, bodies getting ripped in half, eyeballs being yanked out, etc. People (and a pig) are killed by guns, knives, arrows, and many other means, and there are extended fight scenes. Language is also extra-strong, with uses of "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and many more. A female character is briefly objectified while wearing a revealing outfit, but otherwise there's no sexual content. Characters smoke cigarettes, sip champagne, and mention being drugged. Despite the controversy around the movie's original, canceled 2019 release, it's actually well-made and clever, skewering everyone equally. Hilary Swank and Betty Gilpin co-star. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

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Community Reviews

  • Parents say (8)
  • Kids say (12)

Based on 8 parent reviews

What's the Story?

In THE HUNT, a woman named Athena ( Hilary Swank ) texts with a group of liberal friends. They're discussing "the hunt," in which they'll go out and kill a group of "deplorables." Later, a man wakes up to find himself on a plane. The well-dressed people he sees tell him he "woke up too soon" and kill him. Then more people wake up, gagged, in the woods. They discover a crate full of guns and other weapons -- and, before long, they're being shot at and killed. Only Crystal ( Betty Gilpin ) seems wise enough to stay a jump ahead of her tormenters. Using her wits and some kind of elite training, she fights her way to the end of the puzzle and faces off with its chief architect, Athena. But nothing is quite as it seems.

Is It Any Good?

Insanely gory but also fiendishly funny, this clever dark satire takes a familiar scenario and uses it to boldly skewer both red and blue Americans, painting both sides as equally absurd. The Hunt is brightly, cheerfully in control of its situation, like a master comedian working the room. It seems to have done what few others could even imagine, which is to correctly parody the attributes of both extremes of American political ideologies without anger or hate. It merely finds everyone preposterous.

Director Craig Zobel , who also questioned the worst of human behavior in Compliance , and co-writers Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof (of the Watchmen TV series), start The Hunt with a series of shocks. They break all the rules and let us know that anything is possible, that whatever is going to happen will likely happen before we're ready for it. The movie is smooth, fast-moving, and intricately designed. If it has a flaw, it lies in Gilpin's Crystal. She's amazingly cool, resourceful, and appealing in her slow, thoughtful way of speaking. But she tips the balance of the political satire, making it not quite an equal roasting of both sides. However, she's so fascinating -- and mysterious -- that it's easy to forgive.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about The Hunt 's violence . How did it affect you? Is it meant to be shocking or thrilling? What's the difference? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

Does the movie equally satirize both sides of the American political spectrum? What does it ultimately say? Does it have anything positive to offer?

Is the movie funny? What exactly is "dark humor," and why do we sometimes laugh at things that are otherwise so disturbing?

Is Crystal a role model ? Is she objectified?

Do you think the controversy around the film's original release was warranted? Why or why not?

Movie Details

  • In theaters : March 13, 2020
  • On DVD or streaming : March 20, 2020
  • Cast : Betty Gilpin , Hilary Swank , Emma Roberts
  • Director : Craig Zobel
  • Inclusion Information : Female actors
  • Studio : Universal Pictures
  • Genre : Thriller
  • Run time : 89 minutes
  • MPAA rating : R
  • MPAA explanation : strong bloody violence, and language throughout
  • Last updated : April 28, 2023

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the hunt 2013 movie review

‘The Hunt’ (2013) Movie Review

By Brad Brevet

For a film that is essentially an emotional drama, Thomas Vinterberg ‘s The Hunt is every bit a thriller that will have you pounding your fists in rage, both at the situation as depicted on the screen as well as in some of Vinterberg’s more frustrating storytelling decisions. I didn’t love everything about The Hunt , but even the parts I felt were over-the-top and a bit too much were followed up by such excellence in everything from performance, screenwriting and direction I couldn’t fault the film for long. Vinterberg plays with your emotions in sometimes blunt, yet frequently eloquent ways, turning this into one of the very best films of the year… blemishes and all.

I’d heard mixed things about The Hunt at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, but I wasn’t able to finally see it until over a year later. It was worth the wait. Mads Mikkelsen was awarded Cannes’ Best Actor kudos for his performance as Lucas, a kindergarten teacher in a small Danish town who knows and is loved by just about everyone, until…

Meet Klara (played with sweet innocence by Annika Wedderkopp ), a young girl and daughter of Lucas’ best friend Theo ( Thomas Bo Larsen ). She’s fond of Lucas. He lets her walk his dog Fanny and will occasionally walk her to kindergarten — with his parents’ blessing of course.

One day Lucas is playing with the boys in class and fakes being dead. Klara looks on, you can see her eyes are on the verge of welling with water. Lucas blinks, her face lights up and she runs and gives him a kiss on the lips. Shocked, he quickly jolts upright, sends the kids on their way and lets Klara know that kind of kissing is for mum and dad only. She’s devastated. The day goes on.

All the children have left for home, but Klara remains, waiting for her mother to pick her up. One of the teachers asks if she’s okay. “I hate Lucas,” she says and then proceeds to make up a lie suggesting inappropriate sexual conduct. Lucas’ life is forever changed. A child has told a lie, the nature of which is gravely serious. Lines in society are clearly drawn and there are certainly things you don’t do and what follows is both understandable, infuriating and astonishingly human.

The weight of the film rests on Mikkelsen’s shoulders and Vinterberg and co-writer Tobias Lindholm have given him a lot of heavy lifting. Lucas is a character of a high moral standard and he’s put to the absolute test. Audiences will be punching the air in rage, but at the same time conflicted when considering the other side of the equation. Who do you believe? The sweet young girl or the man whose been close to her most of her life? How well do we know anyone?

As a member of the audience we know the truth, giving us a doorway into the narrative only Lucas and Klara are privy to. We’re met with a story as seen through the eyes of a confused child (she didn’t mean any harm), a tortured man and the community around them, torn by their belief in the word of one over the other.

Mikkelsen is astounding, walking a line of frustration versus simply attempting to exist the best he can amid the hell swirling around him. He brings us into the heart of Lucas early and we sympathize with him just as much as we understand where the rest of the town (thanks to an impressive supporting cast) is coming from, which causes a level of torment in our own hearts.

There are definitely moments where I think Vinterberg goes too far to hammer home his point, but as I’ve already mentioned, those moments are counterbalanced with such grace I was left wracking my brain as to how else such elevated emotional tension could be reached. I came up empty.

Young Annika Wedderkopp as Klara is fantastic and Bo Larsen as Theo is the Danish equivalent of Bryan Cranston in appearance as much as he is in terms of a powerful performance. Larsen’s eyes are just as expressive as Mikkelsen’s and it provides for an astounding final act, all leading to an ending you may or may not see coming, but one perfectly fitting the narrative.

I know The Hunt is likely to find a limited audience due to the fact it’s in a foreign language and Magnolia can only afford so much press, but hopefully word of mouth will gain it some attention and just maybe the Academy will consider Mikkelsen for Best Actor and perhaps even the film for Best Foreign Language feature should it be submitted (I believe it’s still eligible). Either way, it’s a film I strongly urge you seek out, you’ll be glued to the screen for the entirety of its duration.

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the hunt 2013 movie review

The Hunt Review

A darkly comic satire of our political divide..

Scott Collura Avatar

The Most Controversial Horror Movies

the hunt 2013 movie review

Before anybody saw it, Universal and Blumhouse’s The Hunt was the subject of much controversy last year, but it turns out that the actual film and its hyper-violent social commentary is smarter than it was given credit for back then. Director Zobel and writers Lindelof and Cuse, peering through the lens of social media hijinks and polarized politics, paint a ridiculous picture of how we’re all eating ourselves alive. That they do so in such a fun and absurdly bloody way makes The Hunt worth a retweet at the very least.

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The Hunt [2020]

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the hunt 2013 movie review

‘The Hunt’: Film Review

An intense, over-the-top satire of partisan politics taken to its most dangerous extreme, Craig Zobel's controversial thriller delivers the excitement, if not necessarily the deeper social critique.

By Peter Debruge

Peter Debruge

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Betty Gilpin The Hunt

Last summer, even before the public had gotten a chance to see it, humans-hunting-humans thriller “ The Hunt ” became a target for pundits on both sides of the gun control debate, when mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, prompted critics to consider the media’s role in glorifying violence. In response, Universal ripped director Craig Zobel ’s movie from its Sept. 27 release date and rescheduled the thriller for spring 2020, making room for national mourning in the wake of the horrific events, only to turn around and use the controversy as an unconventional marketing hook.

While not nearly as incendiary as the early coverage made it out to be, “The Hunt” gives skeptics ample ammunition to condemn this twisted riff on “The Most Dangerous Game,” in which a posse of heavily armed liberal elites get carried away exercising their Second Amendment rights against a dozen “deplorables” — as the hunters label their prey, adopting Hillary Clinton’s dismissive, dehumanizing term for the “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic” contingent whose fringe beliefs have found purchase with President Trump. No matter who you ask, the “right to bear arms” was never intended as justification for Americans to turn their guns against those they disagree with, whereas that’s the premise from which “Lost” creator Damon Lindelof and co-writer Nick Cuse depart here — partisan politics taken to their most irreconcilable extremes — as Zobel proves just the director to execute such a tight, well-oiled shock-a-thon.

Sure enough, Zobel, Lindelof and producer Jason Blum (riding high on last month’s “The Invisible Man”) have wrought a gory, hard-R exploitation movie masquerading as political satire, one that takes unseemly delight in dispatching yahoos on either end of the spectrum via shotgun, crossbow, hand grenade and all manner of hastily improvised weapons. The words “trigger warning” may not have been invented with “The Hunt” in mind, but they’ve seldom seemed more apt in describing a film that stops just shy of fomenting civil war as it pits Left against Right, Blue (bloods) against Red (necks), in a bloody battle royale that reduces both sides to ridiculous caricatures.

And yet, “The Hunt” is a good deal smarter — and no more outrageous — than most studio horror films, while its political angle at least encourages debate, suggesting that there’s more to this hot potato than mere provocation. Let’s assume we can all agree that there’s too much violence in American movies today. The danger of “The Hunt” isn’t that the project will inspire copycat behavior (the premise is too far-fetched for that), but rather that it drives a recklessly combustible wedge into the tinderbox of extreme partisanship, creating a false equivalency between, say, Whole Foods-shopping white-collar liberals and racist, conspiracy-minded right-wingers.

Back in August 2017, two years before the shootings that put heat on “The Hunt,” Trump sent a troubling message to the whole country when he responded to a murder at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., by insisting that there were “very fine people on both sides.” Zobel and Lindelof explore the opposite view: namely, that the actions and opinions of the two sides can be equally deplorable.

There are no good guys in “The Hunt,” just hunters and hunted, in which both parties are played by character actors whom viewers might recognize from TV. A few have slightly higher profiles (the lefties are led by a lunatic named Athena, stunt-cast with Hilary Swank ), although the movie establishes early on that off-screen status does not confer greater survivability. One of the film’s pranks is to surprise audiences with cleverly timed and diabolically creative “kills” whenever possible, and more than once, faces you may recognize explode right before your eyes, all but splattering the camera in the process. It’s revolting, sure, but nowhere near as upsetting as the “torture porn” genre that preceded Blumhouse’s entry into the horror arena and, frankly, far less offensive than the psychological violence perpetrated by Zobel’s 2012 indie “Compliance,” in which a faceless caller, claiming to be a police officer, convinces a fast-food manager to detain and degrade one of her employees.

Zobel has directed just one feature since then, “Z for Zachariah,” focusing instead on prestige TV, and it’s clear from an early scene aboard a private jet en route to the Manor, where Athena and her guests plan to do their hunting, that the practice has honed his ability to balance between squirm-inducing dialogue and high-stakes suspense. Meanwhile, the film’s plotting is pure Lindelof, who keeps us guessing by dropping clues to “Manorgate,” as the conspiracy surrounding Athena’s activities is referred to among nut-job bloggers like Gary (Ethan Suplee) and Don (Wayne Duvall), only to reveal a more elaborate program than even they could have imagined.

This much “The Hunt” establishes early: Roughly a dozen deplorables (again, the film’s word for them, conveyed via an on-screen text conversation that goes viral among the same network that gave credibility to Pizzagate, prompting a vigilante to take action) are drugged and kidnapped from around the country and flown out to an undisclosed location (not at all where they think). They come to in the middle of a field, where an ominous crate sits. Little by little, using what’s implied to be their limited intellect, they manage to unlock their bite harnesses (a torture porn touch, to be sure) and arm themselves, but it’s not until their unseen hosts start shooting that they put two and two together.

Although the liberals may have the upper hand at first, they’re not any smarter than their quarry, and the movie hooks us by suggesting anything can happen, and following through on that promise with a series of inventive booby traps. If you’ve ever wondered what it looks like when someone steps on a mine or lands face up in a Viet Cong-style punji trap, Zobel and his visual effects team have answers, relying on a graphic mix of CG and practical gore effects to turn such preposterous situations into genuinely startling moments.

Naturally, the project recalls Jordan Peele’s recent “Get Out,” which implicated well-mannered white people in a nefarious plot to steal the brains and skills of unsuspecting African Americans, as well as 1995’s early Cameron Diaz starrer “The Last Supper,” wherein a group of liberals lured contemptible conservatives to dinner, only to poison them when they refused to see reason. (There’s also a soupçon of “MADtv” star Ike Barinholtz’s irreconcilable-differences satire “The Oath,” so it’s fitting that he should appear as one of the hunted here.) But none of those movies took its premise nearly as deep into the realm of horror as Lindelof and Zobel do here, which is the potential advantage of a film that’s rather anemic in its social commentary — there’s not much depth beyond such easy punchlines as a self-hating liberal saying, “White people, we’re the f—in’ worst” — but that delivers on the visceral thrills of trying to survive a rigged game.

As the umpteenth variation on Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game,” however, “The Hunt” is one of the most effective executions yet (it surpasses the Cannes-laureled “Bacurau,” in theaters now, but drags along too much baggage to best last year’s sleeper-hit “Ready or Not”). Regardless of one’s personal political affiliations, it’s hard not to root for the victims here, and one quickly distinguishes herself from the pack of “Deliverance”-style caricatures: Crystal May Creesy (Betty Gilpin of “Glow”), a MacGyver-skilled military veteran who served in Afghanistan and whose distrust of any and everyone makes her uniquely suited for a final showdown with Athena.

After all the buildup, that scene inevitably disappoints in its attempt to explain its own mythology, though the well-matched womano a womano confrontation between Gilpin and Swank is worth the price of admission. Culturally, it does no one any good to stoke discord between two contentious parties, but when the conflict reduces to one-on-one — and “The Hunt” stops pretending to be a parable about modern politics — it’s easy to appreciate the efficient 90-minute horror-fantasy for what it is: not a model for violent behavior in the real world, but an extreme outlet for pent-up frustrations on both sides.

Reviewed at London Screening Room, March 5, 2020. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 90 MIN.

  • Production: A Universal Pictures release of a Blumhouse 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: Damon Lindelof, Nick Cuse. Camera: Darran Tiernan. Editor: Jane Rizzo. Music: Nathan Barr.
  • With: Ike Barinholtz, Betty Gilpin, Emma Roberts, Hilary Swank , Wayne Duvall, Christopher Berry, Sturgill Simpson, Kate Nowlin, Amy Madigan, Reed Birney, Glenn Howerton, Steve Coulter, Dean J. West, Vince Pisani, Teri Wyble, Steve Mokate, Sylvia Grace Crim, Jason Kirkpatrick, Macon Blair, J.C. MacKenzie.

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2020, Mystery & thriller/Comedy, 1h 30m

What to know

Critics Consensus

The Hunt is successful enough as a darkly humorous action thriller, but it shoots wide of the mark when it aims for timely social satire. Read critic reviews

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The hunt videos, the hunt   photos.

Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don't know where they are -- or how they got there. In the shadow of a dark internet conspiracy theory, ruthless elitists gather at a remote location to hunt humans for sport. But their master plan is about to be derailed when one of the hunted, Crystal, turns the tables on her pursuers.

Rating: R (Strong Bloody Violence|Language Throughout)

Genre: Mystery & thriller, Comedy, Action

Original Language: English

Director: Craig Zobel

Producer: Jason Blum , Damon Lindelof

Writer: Nick Cuse , Damon Lindelof

Release Date (Theaters): Mar 13, 2020  original

Release Date (Streaming): Mar 20, 2020

Box Office (Gross USA): $5.3M

Runtime: 1h 30m

Distributor: Universal Pictures

Production Co: Blumhouse Productions, White Rabbit

Sound Mix: Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio: Scope (2.35:1)

Cast & Crew

Ike Barinholtz

Staten Island

Betty Gilpin

Emma Roberts

Hilary Swank

Glenn Howerton

Amy Madigan

Reed Birney

Macon Blair

Ethan Suplee

Craig Zobel


Damon Lindelof

Executive Producer

Steven R. Molen

Darran Tiernan


Film Editing

Nathan Barr

Original Music

Matthew Munn

Production Design

Jason Baldwin Stewart

Art Director

Rachel April

Set Decoration

David Tabbert

Costume Design

Terri Taylor

News & Interviews for The Hunt

Breakdown of 2020 Movie Delays, and When They Will Hit Theaters

Onward , The Invisible Man , and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Hit Digital Release This Week

Weekend Box Office Results: Onward Tops Lowest Weekend Since the 1990s

Critic Reviews for The Hunt

Audience reviews for the hunt.

The Hunt begins as a typical survival thriller (that is nonetheless immediately involving) that shifts into societal commentary (where it drops the ball). Throughout however is the magnetic Betty Gilpin who dominates her screen time with sizzling charisma, lifting this work into must watch territory (and thereby encouraging me to search out her previous work!). Look for her.

the hunt 2013 movie review

The Hunt had been delayed due to one of the multiple shootings in the US. Why they pegged this film to throw shade at is beyond me. After all the hype it was time to sit down with The Hunt to see what all the hype was about. The film was okay, but as a film full of debate and discussion, I just didn't get that. Sure the film was violent, but it's not so violent to shut-down the release. I liked the film overall and it reminded me of The Belko Experiment. That film had its issues and wasn't the grand present everybody expected from James Gunn. The Hunt is exactly the same. It has a lot of hype, but cannot deliver. I'm sure this will grow into a cult film, and I'm happy to say on first viewing, I enjoyed it. 22/03/2020

It's hard not to think about the controversy of a movie when the media all over the world was covering the fact that this film was delayed, due to violence in the world. Going into this movie, I was worried about how similar it was going to feel to the real-world events of the last couple of years. Normally I can just brush off reality and enjoy a movie for what it is, but after watching this movie, even I found myself wondering why it was delayed. It's really just a more brutal version of a film like The Hunger Games. Regardless, this is a very violent film, but it's all meant to give audiences an enjoyable time. While it didn't always work for me, The Hunt is absolutely the definition of a violent film that's just trying to provide some adult fun.  After a couple of needless scenes, this film opens with a group of twelve individuals, not knowing where they are or why they are there. Placed in a forest with nothing but weapons, they must flee for their lives, for reasons that will come to light later on. The first act of this movie is very enjoyable and my jaw was on the floor on a couple of occasions, but I found myself very uninterested in the events to follow after that. This is a very rushed movie that ultimately feels dull by the end. Once the third act of this film began, I just didn't seem to care anymore.  Where this film shines is in its shock factor. While I don't commend movies for showcasing violence for the sake of violence and nothing else, the use of it here felt like it was a part of the world being presented. The first act of this movie, as I mentioned, is quite shocking and I was curious where the movie would go. Sadly, the first act of this film should've been how the majority of it all played out. The best part about this movie is over far too quickly. With that said, Betty Gilpin as Crystal (the main character of the film) was very likeable in this role. It was due to her committed performance that I bought into the events unfolding on-screen. This film suffers from a very weak third act, which was a shame. If this film started the way it should have and left everything ambiguous, it would've been so much cooler to see revelations later on. With that said, this movie chooses to just give you all the answers, before the climax even unfolds, so that's why I found myself not caring by the end. It was clear that director Craig Zobel was trying to make a fun, violent piece of cinema and the duo of Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof as the writers was promising as well, so why did this movie fall apart? It really didn't have to. It's really a mess when it comes to explaining what has really been going on.  In the end, The Hunt is a fun movie at times and surprised me on multiple occasions, but those moments were too far and in between. I can recommend this movie to fans of this type of film, but it absolutely won't impress many others. I'm more positive about it than negative, but there were absolutely major details about the movie that I didn't like. Due to things going on in the world at the moment, The Hunt is now available to rent on all streaming services. If you're a fan of violent movies, you may get a kick out of this one, so take my very mild recommendation with a grain of salt.

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The Hunt Is a Gleeful Exploitation Flick Ruined by Delusions of Relevance

Portrait of Alison Willmore

The best take on The Hunt comes from its own main character, Crystal, a Mississippi car-rental employee and veteran who’s one of a dozen people who are abducted and stalked for sport for reasons initially unclear. Crystal — played by GLOW ’s Betty Gilpin with the kind of delectably unflappable timing ’80s action franchises were once built on — muses that interpreting the reasoning behind what’s been happening to her depends on whether the people responsible are “smart pretending to be idiots or idiots pretending to be smart.” Technically, she’s talking about her trigger-happy captors, a group of wealthy liberals searching for kicks and catharsis by killing a curated selection of members of the alt-right. But it’s an observation that, while bluntly stated, works just as well when applied to the movie she’s at the center of.

If you take The Hunt as the former, then it’s just a nasty exploitation flick, a riff on “The Most Dangerous Game” with a thin veneer of contemporary context. But it’s almost impossible to see it as anything but the latter — a splattery satire that’s actually trying to say something about the polarized moment in which we live. Courtesy of the conservative ire the film attracted before its initial planned release last September, ire that made its way up to the attention of the president , the garbled commentary that The Hunt offers up is pretty much guaranteed to be taken more seriously than the creative team behind it (including director Craig Zobel and writers Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof) likely ever expected. There’s a bountiful, extremely 2020 sort of irony to the way The Hunt depicts cancel culture, given that the movie itself experienced a ludicrous temporary cancellation. It’s a two-hour testament to the perils of casually throwing around terms like “deplorables” and “godless elite” without actually appreciating how little meaning they may have, and how much baggage they’ve nevertheless accrued.

The script from The Hunt often feels like it was generated by pulling randomly from a word cloud from hell, with both sides spitting internet invective at one another like armies of Twitter bots — “cuck,” “snowflake,” “crisis actors,” “hick.” The hunted are a collection of white nationalists, Fox News fans, big-game hunters, and homophobes who wake up in the middle of the woods to find themselves being armed and then being shot at, as though every message board conspiracy theory they’d ever delved into were true. The hunters, led by Athena (Hilary Swank), are high-minded, high-income hypocrites who all take pride in their progressive conscientiousness (“Ava DuVernay just liked one of my posts!” is one of the quips that actually lands) while barely tamping down their vitriolic disdain. The film’s canniest insight is to have its vengeful pursuers insist on trying to get their prey to confess to their respective transgressions before they’re killed, because being told they’re right would be a truer reward than the self-righteous murders that inevitably follow.

The Hunt isn’t a total mishap, not with Gilpin being as good as she is and with Zobel’s gleeful aptitude for violence, but that’s what’s so exasperating about it. It has a habit of getting in its own way with trollish tendencies whenever it starts to build momentum. It’s regrettable that, despite all of its jabs at relevance, the movie has no desire to actually dig into the details of the anger felt by either side of the bloodsport event it imagines. In The Hunt , both sides are treated as equally foolish, South Park style, just snobs and rubes — which feels unbearably glib when the sins of one side are outrageously fictional and the sins of the other draw inspiration from real world examples like the Unite the Right rally and the Westboro Baptist Church. In order to present its political divide as a fundamentally cultural one, it settles on a group of characters who appear to have no direct skin in the game, and then treats the idea that might actually care anyway as unfathomable. For the people on screen, issues like racism and economic inequality amount to just cause for yelling, aside from the family of refugees rushed through a scene as an admission that there are people who have it bad, they’re just far away. It’s a privileged child’s view of current events, not to mention a conveniently white-skewing one.

The ideological incoherence of The Hunt is especially frustrating given that it’s heading to play in theaters alongside Juliano Dornelles and Kleber Mendonça Filho’s rollicking Bacurau , an infinitely sharper story about the hunting of humans for entertainment, and proof that a movie can have something on its mind without surrendering its exploitation bona fides. In the film, a group of armed Americans (and the odd European) who are really desperate to shoot someone embark on a bit of murder tourism — but they go abroad, with their chosen target being a small town in the Brazilian sertão that they assume won’t be missed. It’s the town, not the killers, on which the narrative is centered, and it’s the town that emerges as its own vivid character, a pragmatically inclusive community with a storied history and a gritty determination to take care of its own that was established long before the hunters arrived. Bacurau is an anti-colonialist war cry, a suspensefully bloody romp, and an ode to a distinctively Brazilian outpost capable of standing fast in the face of all comers. One can only imagine what Trump would tweet about this movie — not that he’d ever be likely to watch it, given the subtitles.

  • vulture homepage lede
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Mads Mikkelsen in The Hunt (2012)

A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son's custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to... Read all A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son's custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie. A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son's custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie.

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  • Trivia Thomas Bo Larsen, struggling with alcoholism at the time of filming, would constantly drop his fake beard due to enormous amounts of alcohol in his blood.
  • Goofs After Theo is hit by Lucas in the church he has a black eye. The same night he visits his daughter Klara in her bedroom his eye is normal again. Later Theo visits Lucas and his injury is visible again.

Theo : The world is full of evil but if we hold on to each other, it goes away.

  • Connections Featured in At the Movies: Cannes Film Festival 2012 (2012)
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User reviews 578

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  • January 10, 2013 (Denmark)
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  • DKK 20,000,000 (estimated)
  • Jul 14, 2013
  • $15,886,373

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  • Runtime 1 hour 55 minutes
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the hunt 2013 movie review

Now streaming on:

This originally ran on March 13, and we are re-running because of its early VOD drop.

Craig Zobel ’s “The Hunt” is filled with more memes than plot. The incendiary film, which caused much online handwringing last fall, was eventually shelved after the president weighed in with an uninformed opinion. Almost everybody’s opinion came sight unseen because few eyes had even watched “The Hunt” at all. No matter, after much sound and fury the movie is more of a molehill than a mountain. Betty Gilpin deserves better and so do we. 

The film opens on a bombastic overture and a stiltedly staged group text that will retroactively become important. We are then whisked onto a luxury jet where the liberal rich are feted and random poor conservatives from different parts of the country have been drugged and tucked out-of-sight in the back of the plane. The next scene opens on the kidnapped victims waking up gagged and heading towards a mysterious box in a field, like the cornucopia from “ The Hunger Games .” Once their restraints are off and the shooting begins, the most dangerous game’s afoot. 

It’s easier to single out what I enjoyed about the movie before delving into its messy politics. There are a handful of thrilling, suspenseful sequences like the first shootout in the field and some hand-to-hand combat. Zobel leans into the exploitative possibilities of recreating Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game  for a new audience, including bloody boobytraps, a grenade thrown down a guy’s pants and many, many painful-looking splattery wounds from arrows, knives and bullets. 

Standing tall and stern-faced in the middle of the violent squall is Crystal (Gilpin), the movie’s secret weapon and its saving grace. Hardly any of the other characters on either side of the liberal/conservative divide ever rise above a trite stereotype, and while there’s not too much more depth to Crystal, Gilpin’s performance as a reluctant warrior makes her kind of a hero. She plays Crystal with a tight-lipped and restrained presence, perhaps a holdover from tolerating rotten customers at her car rental agency job. Later, we learn she served in the military, and Gilpin embodies this moving rigidly but quickly, showing that some of her discipline has worn off over the years through a few nervous ticks. Still, her eyes remain on survival and never lets her guard down, like Rambo by way of Mississippi. For those of us who have watched her as Liberty Belle on Netflix’s “Glow,” she’s playing someone completely against type and it’s exhilarating to watch.  

Apart from Gilpin, the movie falls apart. The villains in this story are liberal elites lead by a woman named Athena ( Hilary Swank ) who have a preposterous social media backstory fueled by a conspiracy theory known as Manorgate. It’s one of the many borrowed and tweaked headlines used in “The Hunt,” which despite all its copy and pasting of popular terms and internet slurs, doesn’t add up to anything beyond its superficial violence. Written by Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof , “The Hunt” proves how “both-siderism” doesn’t always logically pan out. How could a pack of liberals easily upset by the sugar in soda, climate change and gendered language turn to kill for sport? Instead, the movie plays into the conspiracy fears about crisis actors and theories that rich liberal elites are out to kill them, and that is where things get less funny. 

Zobel, Cuse and Lindelof made a movie to own the libs and the conservatives, which might be the most capitalist (or nihilist) attitude towards politics yet. The unoriginality of “The Hunt” extends to its cinematography, which Darran Tiernan paints with one shade of grey and maroon bloodstains, its unremarkable production design by Matthew Munn , and its stereotype-reaffirming wardrobe from costume designer David Tabbert . The movie is both disposable in its inability to say something—anything!—about the current political climate beyond “Oh, it’s dicey out there,” and as a strange cultural artifact of the times. It’s just as likely that this movie would have flown in and out of theaters without much notice were it not for its momentary blip on social media. Perhaps there’s more of a lesson to be learned from “The Hunt” than what happens in “The Hunt.”

Monica Castillo

Monica Castillo

Monica Castillo is a freelance writer and University of Southern California Annenberg graduate film critic fellow. Although she originally went to Boston University for biochemistry and molecular biology before landing in the sociology department, she went on to review films for The Boston Phoenix, WBUR, Dig Boston, The Boston Globe, and co-hosted the podcast “Cinema Fix.” 

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The Hunt (2020)

Rated R for strong bloody violence, and language throughout.

115 minutes

Emma Roberts as Yoga Pants

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Hilary Swank as Athena

Justin Hartley as Trucker

Ethan Suplee as Gary

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Betty Gilpin as Crystal

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Amy Madigan as Ma

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‘The Hunt’ Review: Red vs. Blue, Predators vs. Prey in Twitter’s America

By David Fear

A riff on The Most Dangerous Game ‘s well-worn premise, the Blumhouse blockbuster-to-be The Hunt was supposed to be just another project coming off a prolific production company’s assembly line, a tweaked take on class warfare that was part tongue-in-cheek transgressiveness and part tongue-ripped-from-mouth shock treatment. Then word got out that the story involved liberal elites preying on just folks for sport, a few politically charged phrases were flagged from a leaked script, the President weighed in and, well… as with most things involving our current POTUS, things went south in record time . A 2019 fall release was pulled. A thousand think pieces were penned. What started as a modest horror movie was somehow deemed a threat to the well-being of our nation, and began to gather dust on a shelf.

Smash-cut to March 2020, when all cultural rifts between our fellow Americans have been miraculously healed, and once more, The Hunt is on. “The most talked about movie of the year… is one nobody’s seen yet,” declares the trailer — really, you gotta love a good old-fashioned ballyhoo marketing move. Whether it turns out to be the most talked-about movie of the year is anyone’s guess, but given producer Jason Blum’s impressive track record at the box office, a whole bunch of people will have seen it by the end of this weekend. They’ll confirm that The Hunt is neither a harbinger of Western civilization’s end nor quite the Swiftian satire its creators want it to be. It’s simply a better-than-decent B-movie, the kind that takes pride in its sick kills and throws a lot of punches that only occasionally connect. Any expectations that it’s a Grand Guignol state-of-the-nation regarding Trump’s America should be banished ASAP. It’s more like spending 90 minutes trolling around Twitter’s America.

Yes, the story does revolve around coastal elites (who are all caricatures and/or assholes) who pay top dollar to sip champagne on private jets, debate the pitfalls of white privilege, and hunt flyover-state residents (who are mostly caricatures and/or assholes) for the thrill of it. Yes, someone refers to an unnamed president as “our ratfucker-in-chief,” and texts about using “deplorables” as target practice; later, other characters will bemoan the “globalist cucks who run the deep state” and get excited over the prospect of “being on Hannity like the Jew boys who fucked Nixon.” (See, there’s enough bad behavior to go around for everybody!) Yes, a lot of people who are instantly coded as “real Americans” hailing from the rural South to Staten Island wake up in a field, with black mouth-bits attached to their faces, sprinting toward a wooden box filled with weapons. They’re then systematically picked off via sniper rifles, arrows, spiked pits, landmines, and poisoned powdered donuts. You’ll recognize a few of the faces among the working-class prey, though that’s no guarantee they’ll last past the second reel.

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But whether The Hunt ‘s players are seen through the lens of a MAGA-ifying glass or come wrapped up in an NPR tote bag, they’re still caricatures, sketched in the broadest and most basic strokes imaginable. There are only two people you need to pay attention to, really. The first is Athena (Hilary Swank), a corporate shark in business-casual slacks who appears to be the brains behind this whole kill-the-poor shebang. She’s Type-A elitist entitlement personified, the kind of go-getter who impulsively lifts weights during a planning meeting and thinks nothing of using an $1,100 stiletto heel as a weapon. Swank plays her like the amped-up Hogarth portrait that she is.

The second is Crystal (Betty Gilpin), a military veteran from Mississippi who served in Afghanistan; when we meet her, she’s calmly fashioning a compass out of a pin and static electricity from her hair. While everyone around her is freaking out, Crystal is pure grace under pressure. The lady is our resident skeptic, lethal with a firearm, and one who knows her Animal Farm references. She’s the smartest person in the room, on the battlefield, in the movie. The deck is stacked in her favor from the get-go, clearly, yet the GLOW actor still adds a world-weariness — and world-wariness — to the character that serves as a welcome respite from all of the slack-jawed and mealy-mouthed yahoos populating the movie. Thanks to Gilpin, she’s both an action heroine and the closest thing to a three-dimensional person we’ve got here.

Of course these two are going to end up tussling in a chic kitchen, Kill Bill -style, hashing out scenes from the class struggle one breakable piece of furniture at a time. It’s admittedly a blast, with director Crag Zobel ( Compliance, the highly underrated Z for Zachariah ) staging the sequence with anarchic glee. You have to endure a lot to get to that knockdown tête-à-tête, however. The director and the screenwriters Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof have all bent over backwards to make sure viewers can’t necessarily get a bead on a political stance here (though making your film’s hero a working-class Southern female is its own statement). It’s the sort of movie that mocks the right and the left’s paranoia about each other, while simultaneously playing to their greatest fears. Both gun nuts and gun-control advocates will find things to glom onto. Ditto conspiracy theorists and those who think everyone between California and New York is one podcast away from turning into Alex Jones. There are so many straw-man arguments happening at once that it all becomes combustible cacophony minus a real contextual spark. The only thing more deadly here than the bullets are the bullet points flying at you so fast, so furiously.

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In the end, The Hunt ‘s creators have delivered something that doesn’t quite gel as a satire but excels as an exploitation flick — the more it leans in to Gilpin’s lean, mean killing machine and away from the over-the-top attempts to parrot Our Totally Fucked-Up Discourse, the better it works. It didn’t deserve to incur the president’s wrath, naturally, nor does it necessarily court controversy for its own sake. It’s simply a movie that saw an opportunity, accidentally got caught up in bigger circumstances because someone needed to distract his constituency, had unrealistic expectations foisted on it, and then milked its violent sensationalism for all it was worth. What could be more American than that?

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Betty Gilpin in The Hunt.

The Hunt review – gory Trump-baiting satire is more hype than horror

The delayed liberal elites vs rural ‘deplorables’ thriller isn’t quite the political hot potato it’s being sold as, offering boilerplate B-movie schlock instead

H ow do you solve a problem like reviewing The Hunt? The schlocky horror film would ordinarily garner little attention beyond genre fans and a handful of critics. But after months of buildup touting it as a satire about liberal elites hunting rural Trump voters, the film now comes with some baggage.

The Hunt, directed by Craig Zobel and written by Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof, appears at first glance to purposely provoke – one character references “the rat-fucker-in-chief”, another talks of “slaughtering a dozen deplorables” (a reference to Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” remark ). The context of this line becaomes clear when the plot gets going: 12 people wake up, gagged and confused, in the woods while a mysterious box sits nearby, filled with weapons. (The script is loosely inspired by Richard Connell’s 1924 short story The Most Dangerous Game, about a rich man who hunts other humans for sport.) It doesn’t take long for every variety of death – shooting, exploding, stabbing – to descend from a hidden and prepared upper class.

The violence is gratuitous if cartoonish – one woman is shot at, impaled and then blown in half. But The Hunt does play with who to root for and who, if anyone, you can trust. Deaths are often swift and occasionally surprising; the characters are one-line stereotypes – rural woman from Wyoming, white wannabe rapper from Florida, Staten Islander who loves guns (Ike Barinholtz), Ivanka fan in leggings (Emma Roberts) – and are picked off one by one. The only “deplorable” with a clue how to fight back is Crystal (Betty Gilpin), a mysterious woman with an even more mysterious knowledge of martial arts.

The Hunt’s release in the middle of coronavirus fears in the US is another unlucky development in the film’s rollout. It was originally slated for release last September, but mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, prompted a postponement. Soon after, details about the film emerged and rightwing anger followed, even from Trump himself.

In February, it returned with an updated marketing strategy riffing on the controversy. A more spoiler-heavy trailer meant to frame the concept as a joke featured the tagline: “The most talked about movie of the year is one that no one’s actually seen.” The film-makers have claimed they didn’t anticipate any controversy from a film pitting “liberal elites” against “deplorables” in a violent human hunt, which seems like lobbing a mock grenade into a minefield and getting upset when people scatter.

Nevertheless, they have something of a point: if you can set aside the noise, you’re left with a boilerplate B-movie that doesn’t say nearly as much as it thinks it does. The jokes are the words of stereotypes spoken with a straight face, an opportunity to have a character say “climate change is real” , poke fun at white liberal NPR listeners who debate using “black” v “African-American” (“White people – we’re the worst,” says one elite in reference to everything except his killing), and imbue “did you read that article?” with more menace.

Hilary Swank and Betty Gilpin in The Hunt.

Which isn’t to say it completely lacks redeeming qualities, namely Gilpin. It’s good fun to watch her slink into a bunker and spit, “Bye, bitch,” or drawl through a rendition of The Tortoise and the Hare that ends in more violence. She bounces back from various injury in a matter of seconds and has a genuinely entertaining one-on-one fight with Hilary Swank , as chief elite villain.

The rest of the satire, however, struggles to translate. In creating characters that embody the worst stereotypes of America’s political poles, and making America’s divide as literal and violent as possible, The Hunt feigns a viewpoint rather than actually putting one forward. It takes aim at everyone, redeeming no one. Which feels circular, and queasy, and takes us right back where we started: some empty talk about a divided nation, and a film not worthy of this much conversation.

The Hunt is in UK cinemas on 11 March, US cinemas on 13 March and Australian cinemas on 23 March.

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‘The Hunt’ Review: Ultra-Violent MAGA Satire Mocks Both ‘Deplorables’ and ‘Elites’

David ehrlich.

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Editor’s note: This review was originally published for the theatrical release of “ The Hunt .” Universal Pictures will release it early to VOD on Friday, March 20.

“The Hunt” begins with a bunch of NPR-addicted neoliberals poaching a wild pack of Trump-worshipping MAGA types for bloodsport. Director Craig Zobel ’s ultra-violent satirical update of “The Most Dangerous Game” aspires to be the movie that America needs right now; it’s a giddy slaughterhouse of mirrors that hopes to bring this country together and make it great again by reflecting the absurdity of us vs them resentment. The movie literalizes the rhetoric of a culture war that has divided the United States into “globalist cucks who run the deep state” and “redneck deplorables” with little wiggle room in between. Blumhouse’s latest blast of low-budget social commentary tries to split the difference between centrists and nihilists — between “bothsidesism” and “nosidesism”— in order to illustrate the self-destructive stupidity of mutual dehumanization.

And yet, about seven weeks before it was first supposed to open in theaters, “The Hunt” was eviscerated by the same ideology-driven polarization it was made to parody (and lament). As you may or may not remember from last fall, the current President of the United States kicked up a 24-hour shit-storm as soon as he caught wind of the film’s premise, thus leaving Universal with no choice but to reschedule the release (Trump’s command of irony is only matched by his peerless understanding of epidemiology).

On the one hand, the preemptive blowback proved the movie’s thesis in the most idiotically predictable of ways, as the world’s loudest right-wing troll looked at “The Hunt” through the narrow prism of his biases and mislabeled it a liberal fantasy sight unseen. On the other hand, that triggered response suggested that things might be just a bit too fucked for such a head-on piece of shlock to make sense of the mess we’ve made, or do anything more than draw a body chalk outline around the corpse of the idealized American citizen. Combining the droll self-satisfaction of a New Yorker cartoon with the wet gore of an Eli Roth movie, Zobel’s tense, well-crafted, and deviant grindhouse take on the national temperature has no trouble caricaturing what ails us, but even that fun combo lacks the killer instinct required to see us more clearly than we see each other.

On a scene-by-scene basis, however, “The Hunt” is one of the most unsanitized and diabolical Hollywood thrillers to come along in ages. It starts with a splash of cold water to the face — the kind of mind-numbing group text about our “ratfuck president” that will be all too recognizable to the majority of people in this country — and then gets down to business from there with a series of bloody misdirects that help obliterate the value of human life.

A dozen or so drugged red state types wake up in the middle of a field somewhere, groggy and gagged. One of them is a young blonde ( Emma Roberts ) sporting a sweet teal ski suit that radiates big “Urban Outfitters goes to Aspen” energy. Another is a pot-bellied porch-sitter (Wayne Duvall) with a heavy Southern accent and a potential secret. The others include an aggro Staten Island bro (Ike Barinholtz), a soap opera handsome Southern guy (“This Is Us” star Justin Hartley), and a xenophobic conspiracy theorist (Ethan Suplee, later joined by his “Blue Ruin” co-star Macon Blair) who cites a QAnon-style Reddit thread about Trump supporters being kidnapped and hunted by rich Democrats in Vermont — they call it “ManorGate.” That kind of fringe thinking seems a bit more credible when a sniper’s bullet pops someone’s head like a bloody zit. The next redshirt is disemboweled by the spikes inside a trap pit, and a few others are blown into oblivion after that. The hunt is on, and the thickening air of mistrust adds a nice layer of “Battle Royale” suspense to the mayhem that follows.

The unhinged first act builds up oodles of “no one is safe” cred before the film’s recalcitrant heroine finally emerges to challenge that idea (in a very good and silly scene that dares to imagine what a human safari designed by a Rachel Maddow superfan might look like). Her name is Crystal, she’s very capable of protecting herself, and “Glow” star Betty Gilpin plays her with almost sociopathic cool in an inspired and strange performance that splits the difference between Linda Hamilton and “No Country for Old Men” baddie Anton Chigurh.

Despite being saddled with the kind of heavy Arkansas accent that might inspire a lazy northern stranger to assume the worst, Crystal is the only character who seems confused by the whole “elites” vs “deplorables” situation at hand. It could be that she just doesn’t care — that such political tribalism seems ridiculous at these stakes — but sometimes it’s almost as if she’s almost unaware or indifferent about what’s happening in this country. Then again, she’s also the only character who seems to suspect that they might not be in “this country” at all.

the hunt 2013 movie review

What happens from there is best left unspoiled, but it’s worth noting that the screenplay (co-written by Damon Lindelof and the son of his fellow “Lost” mastermind, Nick Cuse) wastes little time in leaving its setup behind; the rules of the game are hardly even established before “The Hunt” jumps the fence and tries to flee in another direction. That restless decision offers mixed results, as a few clever set pieces can’t stop the movie’s big ideas from getting muddled as they spill over into “the real world.” The momentum slows, the focus grows scattered, and the context of this story begins to shrivel up; bland, disinterested world-building is an unexpected charge to level at a Lindelof script, but “The Hunt” is too amused with scoring easy laughs to plunge any deeper into its own premise.

A 90-minute B-movie about a comically PC “Westworld” doesn’t need the same degree of mythology as an HBO series, but the idea that “The Hunt” parodies our world doesn’t excuse it from creating one of its own. The air wheezes out of the balloon as soon as we get some face time with the hunters; as funny as it is to watch these righteous, homicidal latté-sippers cancel each other over using “the n-word” while they wait to gun down the innocent strangers they’ve kidnapped (they even make sure to abduct a black guy for “diversity”), there’s only so far you can stretch the most basic stereotypes of the political spectrum before it all feels a bit thin. Cuse and Lindelof add enough spice to the scenario to keep “The Hunt” from losing its flavor — one detail invoking Bruce Willis is particularly great — but the emphasis on these caricatures doesn’t leave Crystal much room to navigate between them.

Zobel never slouches even as “The Hunt” shrinks away from its full potential, and — despite a palpable lack of funding — he shoots the climactic fight with such an exquisite sense of tongue-in-cheek bedlam that you only wish the entire movie could have the same command of its violence. It’s the most amusing scene of its kind since the opening brawl from “Kill Bill: Volume 1,” and the ridiculousness of it all undercuts right-wing conspiracy theories by taking them at face value: Trump’s paranoid fear-mongering asks people to accept that stuff like this is really happening, and it only requires them to agree to it once. We live in a National Enquirer world now, and the crazier things get, the easier they are to believe.

But in an era where real life has become a satire of itself, satire can’t afford to be merely diagnostic; it has to muddy the waters, map out the sunken places, and work its way back up to an unshakeable place of truth. “The Hunt” only gets halfway there. It outlines a fatal divide in this country, and then spends the rest of its running time staring down into the gap. Gilpin is sensational as a woman who’s alien to America as we know it (and it’d be fun to ask a bunch of different viewers who they think Crystal would vote for in 2020, if anyone), but by the time all the cards are on the table, the most unrealistic thing about “The Hunt” is the idea that anyone watching it might learn to appreciate the humanity of those on the other side.

Universal Pictures will release “The Hunt” in theaters on Friday, March 13

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The Hunt Movie Review: A Gory and Slick Social Commentary

A controversial yet engrossing movie. Here is our The Hunt movie review.

2020 horror movie The Hunt

Released by Universal Pictures we take a look at the 2020 horror movie The Hunt.

Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are — or how they got there.

In the shadow of a dark internet conspiracy theory, ruthless elitists gather at a remote location to hunt humans for sport.

But their master plan is about to be derailed when one of the hunted, Crystal, turns the tables on her pursuers.

The Hunt Movie Still

You only need to take a look at the poster above to get an idea of the controversy that has followed this movie.

Packed with a star-studded cast including Hilary Swank, Emma Roberts , Ike Barinholtz and Betty Gilpin this politically driven story sent the public into meltdown.

Even President Trump condemned the release of such a movie around the time of the Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas shootings of 2019.

It was unclear whether this film would ever see the light of day.

Fast forward to March 2020 and The Hunt is here and it may (just may) cause a stir, if you’re that way inclined.

The Hunt Movie Review

Our story revolves around the elites who kidnap poorer people of a lesser social class and hunt them for sport. Pigs for the slaughter and deers for the hunt.

The Hunt Movie

Following in the vein of films such as Get Out, Us and The Purge there are somewhat political undertones of the movie. The liberal and conservative divides of the United States, the rich vs poor divide and more.

But these divides are only interpreted by those who see it that way. It’s not forced or obvious in any way.

If anything the movie is about the social media divides between us. The red corner vs the blue corner. The snowflake vs the brick wall rather than anything even remotely political.

Step away from the politics and we have a gritty, gory little movie that was better than I had anticipated.

Upon first glance of the trailer you can see why the controversy set the frenzy in motion. After seeing the movie it’s very clear that its not a one sided affair. Quite the opposite in fact with both sides taking a hammering.

It’s a film that everybody can enjoy without squabbling over what side you’re on.

Jason Blum had this to say about The Hunt:

It was always the plan to bring it back, Not one frame, not one line of the film has since been changed. Everybody jumped to conclusions about what the movie was and nobody had seen the movie.

Betty Gilpin wasn’t a name that was anywhere on my radar until The Hunt dropped and i’m ever so glad it did. She puts in an absolutely outstanding performance that outshines and outclasses anyone else on screen.

Fans are going to love this one, you’re going to be very surprised!

The Hunt Ball Gag

The Hunt is funny in parts, gory and is a very stylish commentary on modern politics and society. The film takes aims at both sides and pokes fun at every single one of us.

Some people will no doubt be offended in some way by this movie but The Hunt never picks a side. It happily stands in the middle and watches much like the silent social media visitor just casually watching humanity burn around them.

It’s time to unravel those pants you’ve got into a knot!

The Hunt is funny in parts, gory and is a very stylish commentary on modern politics and society.

The film takes aims at both sides and pokes fun at every single one of us.

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  19. The Hunt movie review & film summary (2020)

    Powered by JustWatch This originally ran on March 13, and we are re-running because of its early VOD drop. Craig Zobel 's "The Hunt" is filled with more memes than plot. The incendiary film, which caused much online handwringing last fall, was eventually shelved after the president weighed in with an uninformed opinion.

  20. 'The Hunt' Movies Review: Predators vs. Prey in Twitter's America

    A 2019 fall release was pulled. A thousand think pieces were penned. What started as a modest horror movie was somehow deemed a threat to the well-being of our nation, and began to gather dust on ...

  21. The Hunt review

    The Hunt, directed by Craig Zobel and written by Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof, appears at first glance to purposely provoke - one character references "the rat-fucker-in-chief", another talks of...

  22. The Hunt Review: Violent Trump-Era Satire Brutally Mocks Both Sides

    The momentum slows, the focus grows scattered, and the context of this story begins to shrivel up; bland, disinterested world-building is an unexpected charge to level at a Lindelof script, but ...

  23. Customer Reviews: The Hunt [Blu-ray] [2012]

    Best Buy has honest and unbiased customer reviews for The Hunt [Blu-ray] [2012]. Read helpful reviews from our customers. Member Deals Days. 4 days of exclusive deals for My Best Buy Plus™ and My Best Buy Total™ members. Ends 1/18. ... Mads Mikkelsen does a wonderful job in this film and it's just overall perfect. This review is from The ...

  24. The Hunt Movie Review: A Gory and Slick Social Commentary

    The Hunt is funny in parts, gory and is a very stylish commentary on modern politics and society. The film takes aims at both sides and pokes fun at every single one of us. Some people will no doubt be offended in some way by this movie but The Hunt never picks a side. It happily stands in the middle and watches much like the silent social ...