New from Al and Linda Lerner on Movies and Shakers: The Hunt

Bloody and violent right from the start, Betty Gilpin playing combat veteran, Crystal (GLOW) is better than the script in this one joke movie. You’re led to believe this is a liberal vs. conservative battle taken to the extreme with knives slashing and guns blazing. 

Craig Zobel (West World, The Leftovers) directs this political thriller with Orwellian overtones, down to the pig. A group of ultra progressives led by a woman named Athena (Hilary Swank) kidnaps a dozen stereotypical male and female conservatives.

She has men and women dropped into a strange setting and left to try to survive as they are being hunted. They are identified by their characteristics. They include Emma Roberts as an Ivanka wannabe, Ike Barinholtz as a gun nut, Sturgill Simpson as another gun nut, Ethan Suplee as a conspiracy theory podcaster. The word “deplorable” is used liberally in this film. 

You just don’t know what to make of the people you see. No telling who’s good/bad, dangerous or not. It takes awhile to find out why they’re being hunted. And the timeline shifts to make it even more confusing. Not sure what writers Nick Cuse and Damon Lindel (HBOs Watchmen) were thinking of, other than trying to be camp, outrageous and uber gory. Be prepared, there are some thoroughly gruesome scenes of parts being pulled out of the body and healing wounds with a blow torch. 

By trying to mock today’s cultural and political divide with these obtusely stiff stereotypes, they miss making any real statement. Most of the jokes fall flat, except for one LOL moment with a gag about Ava Duvernay liking a post. Everything here is just so obvious. We know we live in polarized times, It’s just disappointing that this ends up as a minor league horror movie. 

The advanced hype and outrage from conservative media outlets (Fox News) when this film was originally to be released last September isn’t justified. The movie just isn’t as provocative as we think it was intended. 

Several well-known actors, including Emma Roberts and Ike Barinholtz, are only in there for a few minutes as these characters get picked off. Betty Gilpin is a badass who brings a lot to her character. As Crystal, she has this droopy-eyed, slack-jaw expression to make you think that she’s a stupid cracker. She’s anything but! Gilpin is exceptional.  And when she and Hilary Swank go head to head in the big badass battle late in the film, it goes on way too long. Using kitchen tools and machinery for weapons, and they keep coming back for more, but with lipstick still perfect and clothes not rough up enough. It gets ludicrous. Still give kudos for Director Zobel’s fight choreography and to the stunt doubles who earned their pay that day. 

Following the news about the social and political climate we’re living in right now, if you’re looking to avoid crowds this weekend, this is the movie to see.  

Universal Pictures             1 hour 29 minutes                  R

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