Film Review - The Hunt

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Betty Gilpin in a scene from “The Hunt.”

They say there are no new ideas, and “The Hunt” proves the point. If you’ve ever seen “The Most Dangerous Game” on Turner Classic Movies” you’ll know what I mean.

In 1932 Joel McCrae starred in a film based on a short story called “The Most Dangerous Game,” the frightening tale about big game hunters on an island who hunt humans for sport.

And then in 1993 Jean-Claude Van Damme starred in “Hard Target,” a film about ruthless businessmen who arrange the hunting of homeless men as a form of recreational sport.

Now, in this latest incarnation titled “The Hunt,” 12 strangers mysteriously wake up in a clearing with no idea how they got there or where they might be. As they soon discover, a group of rich hunters in a nearby manor house have chosen them as the prey in a hunt.

Needless to say, one of the hunted fights back – or else there wouldn’t be much of a story here.

Betty Gilpin (TV’s “GLOW”) is the feisty blonde who won’t give in. She does some pretty deadly hunting herself.

The cast includes some better known names: Emma Roberts, Amy Madigan, and Hilary Swank.

“The Hunt” is among a number of recently released films that studios are making available on-demand as movie theaters shut their doors due to the coronavirus.

This is another horror film from Jason Blum, the guy who gave you “The Purge,” “Get Out,” “Us,” and the new “Halloween.”

The original title for the film was “Red State Vs. Blue State,” and the hunters referred to the hunted as “deplorables.” But given the divisive nature of today’s politics, someone thought better of it and changed the name.

At an early audience screening, “The Hunt” received negative reactions, and at a second screening “audience members were again expressing discomfort with the politics.”

Universal, the studio that released the film, feigned surprise at the audience’s turn-off by the political overtones – although other studios had turned down making the film for that very reason.

Even Donald Trump tweeted about the film, saying: “The movie coming out is made in order to inflame and cause chaos,” adding “They create their own violence, and then try to blame others.”

However, The Atlantic and National Review argued that the film actually had a “right-wing, anti-liberal tone” that was misinterpreted by conservative critics of the film.

Rotten Tomatoes comes closer to the truth when it describes “The Hunt” as a “darkly humorous action thriller, but it shoots wide of the mark when it aims for timely social satire.”

In short, you can see “The Hunt” through either a red filter or a blue filter, depending on your personal politics.

Shirrel Rhoades is a film critic and former media executive. He previously served as executive vice president of Marvel Entertainment and has produced several movies and documentaries. He was also a senior faculty member of New York University’s Center for Publishing. He lives in Key West, Florida, and Lake Lure, North Carolina. Contact him at srhoades@aol.com.

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