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Film Review: “The Hunt” (2020) ★★★★


We live in an era when, sadly, we have to hear terrible news coming from the United States about mass shootings in one state or the other. People die not because of war but due to the right secured by the second amendment which the vast majority don’t want to give up. The question is, how far one individual is willing to go to retain the power of not only keeping a gun but pulling the trigger as well for self-defense? Do we have to justify bearing a gun to turn it against each other just because we don’t agree on something?

“The Hunt” from Blumhouse being distributed by Universal Pictures went through a dark path when it had to get canceled after two back to back shootings (in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, ) in the US last year. The concept of it, of course, was the main reason to scrap the release, even though temporarily, as it offers political satire about the gun violence in the US, its implications, and how it caused a political divide in modern America.

12 strangers were abducted from different states and brought to the Manor House to play a game. The rules are simple – run as fast as you can, have a gun but die in the end. Options are not much because the lives of those considered as prey won’t be spared. However, a group of elites takes a big misstep, when one of their hunted persons, Crystal (Betty Gilpin), fights back by not just remaining alive but turning her hunters into prey. Crystal is smart, fast, athletic, and knows how to fight. But there one quality she has that allows her to stay in the game – she is crazy enough to go further than the creators of the vicious game.

Based on the 1924 short story “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell, “The Hunt” pits left-leaning and right-leaning individuals against each other in a film many might disagree with. However, watching “The Hunt” as an outsider delivers a chilling effect of reality no one would like to face. For instance, at some point, Ma (Amy Madigan) says, “Why to try to protect yourself by carrying a gun from someone who also exercises his second amendment right?” That line alone is an excellent example of why a war weapon should ever end up in an angry civilian’s hand.

Crystal, perhaps, is the only target who, without having a gun, can bring down any enemy of hers. She can track down anyone and has no empathy whatsoever. She even questions a woman before killing her, “Should your life be spared just because you are a woman?” knowing ahead of time she will still claim another life. Does this make Crystal the good guy in the film? Not at all. “The Hunt”, directed by Craig Zobel, does not offer a character we could easily cheer for. But we, however, are having Betty Gilpin’s Crystal, who more or less must move forward in order to solve the puzzle by finding a mastermind of her unplanned fate, Hilary Swank’s Athena.

There is a lot to process in “The Hunt”, and Blumhouse gets this right. The fighting scene between Gilpin and Swank is electrifying, literally. But the explanation provided by Athena as to why she came up with such a horrendous plan shapes an image of society we live in and its lack of decency. But that’s not the only reason why this film, in particular, must be seen but rather for questions it raises, shows its political point of view, and how social media can have an uninvited deadly impact on people’s lives just because of their beliefs and views we may find ourselves disagreeing with. On top of that, “The Hunt” provides an entertaining and sometimes hilarious ride like a storm with a premise that never gets it wrong.

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