For a film that was shrouded in enough controversy that it's original release date was delayed, Blumhouse's latest "The Hunt" proves to be a bloody mess.
Part splatter film, part social satire - "The Hunt" provides too much of the former and not enough of the latter, mistakenly thinking gore is just as shocking as statements on today's current political environment.
From the beginning it is apparent "The Hunt" is not nearly as clever as it thinks it is. Twelve strangers (including Emma Roberts and Ike Barinholtz) wake up in the middle of nowhere and soon realize they have been kidnapped and are now being hunted by liberal elitists.
As the hunt intensifies and the group's numbers dwindle, a quiet woman with a military background named Crystal (Betty Gilpin) emerges as the one person perhaps capable of surviving and turning the hunters into the hunted.
"The Hunt" is essentially a spin on "The Most Dangerous Game," with liberalist elitist versus the "deplorables" substituting the idea of the rich versus the poor.
Director Craig Zobel could have taken this idea to create some intriguing statements on the divide and how it is driven by social media. Instead he takes the easy way out, with the gore starting from the opening moments and splattered throughout - almost to the point of desensitizing the audience. It's a shame that Zobel didn't bring the same sensitivity here that he did to the underrated "Compliance," which really understood how to handle its terrifying true story of a woman unlawfully strip searched in her work place.
"The Hunt" is gloves off from the start. I wasn't really shocked or appalled by what happens on screen. Mostly, I was just disgusted by the poor film making and lack of story development (when the film finally does try to set up some background it comes way to late to care).
About the only thing that keeps "The Hunt" interesting is Gilpin's intense hero - a female Rambo-type who always seems to be one step ahead of the people that are hunting her. Gilpin brings an intensity to her performance that at least keeps the audience interested in her plight - even when everything else around her is a giant dumpster fire.
We care about Crystal enough that when she finally goes one on one with the head of the hunting party (Hilary Swank, the second best thing about "The Hunt") it is at least mildly satisfying.
If "The Hunt" had focused more on that dynamic and less on trying to be this grand statement on political correctness then maybe it would have worked. As it is, "The Hunt" is the kind of mess that will probably leave most of its audience wondering what all the fuss was about.