Sometimes, Hollywood graces us with a film that sparks endless controversy so great that it leads to its outright banishment. It was Tobe Hooper’s classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which found itself pulled from UK cinemas in 1975. Today, The Hunt has, in a sense, become this generation’s Chainsaw.
When the trailer premiered in the summer of 2019, President Donald Trump took to Twitter, denouncing the film. Following several highly publicized shootings, marketing for The Hunt was suspended. Then, the film’s release was canceled altogether. Blumhouse, in effect found their new film caught up in a whirlwind of criticism before ultimately falling victim to “cancel culture”.
Now, it’s fair for me to point out that, thankfully, The Hunt didn’t endure the level of censorship that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, did. Chainsaw found itself banned for years. The Hunt, comparitively, eventually found its way into theatres, however briefly, after seven months. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the film was released for VOD after the closure of movie theaters. Some might say, that The Hunt has definitley had to fight for its day in the sun. I for, one, am glad that it overcame its barriers.
The film begins with texts, alluding to the massacre of “deplorables” at an undisclosed location, simply knowns as “The Manor”. It’s a quiet moment; the only bit of calm afforded to us before all hell breaks loose.
I dove headfirst into The Hunt with no expectations, leaving thoughts of its controversy at the door. Sure, I was aware of it, but I did not want it to mar my viewing experience. I allowed the story to take me on a journey, even it would be nothing more than a shoot em up story set in the woods. It turned out to be so much more.
Visually, The Hunt is a pleasure to take in, and it serves the story well. It was hard for me, as a viewer, to reconcile where the action was taking place, at first. This made me feel what the characters were surely feeling. The wig on Emma Roberts’s head was distracting, but not enough to ruin the experience.
The dispatching of most of the cast within the first act was a hell of a lot of fun. A slight touch of humor elevates the violence on the screen, and I must give kudos to the filmmakers for that. Comedy and horror are great bedfellows in the right situations, and there isn’t much about The Hunt that isn’t right.
Most captivating to me, is the portayel of the film’s main antagonist and protaginist, as played by Hilary Swank and Betty Gilpin. Swank has tremendous fun with the off-kilter role of Athena, and I think she must have reveled in the chance to play someone so self aware of their insanity. Gilpin, on the flip side of the coin, portrays the ass kicking, slighty insane Crystal Creasey. You root for her from the moment you see her, though you aren’t sure why.
After my initial viewing, I have found The Hunt deserves multiple viewings. While I can see where some viewers might allow themselves to become victimized by the satire so brillaint worked into the script, I feel that this film is one that needs to be seen. It’s a true examination of just how terrible people can be to one another when misconceptions get in the way, which is ironic. Misconceptions are what have cast a lot of negativity over this movie. In the end, The Hunt works, but only if the viewers allow themselves to lighten up.