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In case you don't know, I'm from Portugal. Why does this matter? Well, The Hunt was delayed after a massive shooting in the USA, and since the movies' themes are extremely sensitive, the producers decided to postpone the film. At the time, I felt frustrated that, once again, movies have to suffer from real-life situations. Going to the theater is supposed to be an "out of this world" experience. The audience is transported into a fictional place where real-world problems can be forgotten for a couple of hours. So, I never handled these constant controversies surrounding films very well...
With that said, I believe The Hunt not only benefited from that delay, but its satirical story has even more impact now. There's no way around this. Craig Zobel's movie is meant to be one of the most divisive films of the last few years. I know it's a pretty basic analogy, but it's just like a dark humor standup show. If you don't have any issues with jokes about topics like racism, stereotypes, immigration, refugees, religion, politics, and every sensitive theme that your mind can imagine, then you'll find The Hunt a brilliant allegory of society's most extreme people. If you do have problems with this type of comedy, then stay away from this movie because Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse go all out!
When I write that every remotely sensitive taboo subject or activity is unrestrainedly addressed, I mean EVERY SINGLE theme. This is a narrative completely packed with extreme, over-the-top cliches and stereotypes of both right and left political sides. At first glance, The Hunters feel like the "bad guys", in the sense that they're hunting innocent people for pure pleasure. Once the audience understands the reasons behind the selection of the people being hunted, one small but tremendously effective thought enters everyone's mind: "you know what... the world would actually be a better place without this kind of people".
Suddenly, not a single character is worth caring about. To clarify, I don't mean "caring about" in the common, emotional way. No character is written with the purpose of making the audience worry about it. In fact, almost every character (maybe except Betty Gilpin's) is a despicable human being. Their view of the world is clouded by ideologically outdated mentalities. I love how the screenwriters use each character to represent a particular type of ... extreme personality, let's call it that. One of the best compliments I can give the film is that it didn't pick a side. Everyone gets blasted with jokes.
It's a dark yet hilarious satire of today's society with a special focus on the close-minded people that go online to try and spread their conspiracy theories and immoral beliefs. Everything that I just wrote so far resembles the movie's impact on the viewer: either you're okay with this type of screenplay and you'll be incredibly entertained; or you'll get extremely triggered by all this. It's one of those films that will end up on a bunch of "Worst Movies of 2020" lists simply due to its narrative's nature.
However, the story isn't the only aspect that can make people give up on watching this movie. The actual hunt is as over-the-top as everything else. There's blood everywhere, ridiculously disgusting deaths, and absolutely no limits whatsoever in killing people in the most insanely entertaining way possible. Action-wise, The Hunt is better filmed than a lot of blockbusters. Beautiful wide shots when something (or someone) explodes, exceptional (and hilariously long) choreography for the "final fight", and excellent editing overall. It's genuinely a well-made, well-produced, and well-filmed movie. The score is also pretty cool.
Obviously, it's one of those films that's easy to pinpoint flaws. Every single paragraph that I wrote above can be interpreted as some of the worst aspects of the entire movie, depending on each person's perspective. In my opinion, I think the ending would have benefited from a more serious tone, but at the same time, it would probably clash with the widespread satirical one, so it's an inevitably difficult ending to completely get right. The cast is a bit hit-and-miss when it comes to each actor's performance (some are very bland), but Betty Gilpin delivers an outstanding display and seamlessly carries the whole film. Finally, there's a small part of the movie that involves military characters who don't belong to either side of The Hunt, and that portion didn't really work for me.
All in all, The Hunt is a brilliantly dark satire on today's political views of the world. It's meant to be one of the most divisive films of the last few years, and it undoubtedly succeeds in its mission. Just like dark humor, either you're okay with it, or you're not. If you can't take a joke about the most extremely sensitive taboo themes (and I mean ALL of them), then stay away from this movie or you'll be triggered for a whole week. However, if you can see the fun side of this type of comedy, The Hunt is the most entertaining, witty, hilarious, bloody, over-the-top action thriller you'll see for a long time. Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse go all out, and they don't forget to approach a single topic. It's a well-made film all-around: well-written, well-produced, and well-filmed. A few minor issues regarding its ending and a small subplot don't diminish Craig Zobel's exceptionally captivating concept and Betty Gilpin's compelling performance. I definitely recommend it depending on how much you enjoy dark humor.
PS: everyone knows the tale about the rabbit and the turtle, right? How the rabbit races the turtle, and all that? Well, The Hunt's version of that story just became my all-time favorite.