The most famous review of “The Hunt” comes from the 45th president of the United States. The man formerly known as Donald Drumpf tweeted that “The Hunt” was made “to inflame and cause chaos. They (the filmmakers) create their own violence, and then try to blame others. They are the true Racists, and are very bad for our country!”
The 45th president wasn’t the only person to weigh in. Much has been said about “The Hunt,” most of which came before its release. The buzz concerned the plot, which consists of “liberal elites” sport hunting radical conservatives, dubbed “Deplorables,” at a manor in Vermont.
Now, this reviewer is no President of the United States, but I do know a bit about movies — enough to determine that “The Hunt” isn’t inflammatory, racist or harmful to Americans. Real dangers, like shootings and viral infections, easily combatable by gun control and test kits respectively, probably should be higher on this President’s priority list than exploitation cinema, but that’s neither here nor there. Now, back to “The Hunt.”
The movie was originally supposed to be released in September 2019, but was pulled in the wake of the Dayton and El Paso shootings, and moved to Mar. 14 of this year (ironically perhaps an even worse time to release the movie, but who could have known). The release date switch was both spurred by and accompanied with controversy, from both sides of the political aisle. Be it because of its perceived “glorification of violence,” or depiction of deplorable hunting, many deemed “The Hunt” “a movie that should never have been made.” However, others lamented the movie's delay, with one pundit calling it “left-wing political correctness… getting out of control.” Everyone had something to complain about, yet no one had even seen the movie.
Like with “Joker,” so much had been predicted, analyzed and determined about “The Hunt” before its release that it was always destined to fall short of every hyperbolic claim lobbed its way.
First of all, it’s not hate speech. “The Hunt” takes aim at everyone, reflecting current politics through a fun-house mirror that inflates the worst qualities of both sides of the political aisle. The liberals are arrogant, touchy “holier than thou” CEOs of huge companies. The conservatives are racist, homophobic and trophy hunters. While “The Hunt” is undoubtedly satirical, it does not try to solve America’s problems — its politics are too exaggerated to be sincere, leaving the viewer to make their own conclusions. They’re also incredibly funny. One highlight is when one of the elites shoots someone and leans in, exclaiming, “For the record, climate change is real!”
Political flourishes aside, though, “The Hunt” is really just a well-done thriller. There’s a fascinating swap of protagonists at the start, where it seems that every character is expendable, as well as a few cool fight scenes. Betty Gilpin (“Killing Eve”) is great too. It’s basically “Black Mirror” meets “Inglourious Basterds,” a hyper-violent, imaginative and satirical thrill ride which doesn’t take itself too seriously. Still, this feels like somewhat of an anticlimax. Was all the arguing really about something this harmless?
It’s high time movies stopped becoming hotbeds of controversy for no reason. All the hand-wringing creates unreasonable extremes that the movies involved rarely live up to. Don’t presidents and TV news anchors have better things to do than lament the perceived politics of an action movie? The conservative pundits couldn’t get over the term “Deplorable,” even though it is only used once or twice in the entire movie. Keep in mind, these people are fine with hurling “snowflake” at most liberal pleas for decency.
Movies aren’t meant to be picked apart by political demagogues. They’re meant to be watched, and hopefully enjoyed, by individuals. It’s past time to move past the outrage machine — turning cinema into an ideological battleground does nothing but cloud the movies themselves. If people watch a movie before arguing about it, everyone will be better off as the films can actually stand on their own.
That’s not to say that cinema shouldn’t engage with contemporary issues or be debated for doing so. However, if any movie that includes politics is going to become a flashpoint of societal rage before it is even released, studios may eventually start avoiding them entirely which, in the age of masterpieces like “Get Out” and “The Invisible Man,” would be something truly deplorable.