I’ll be honest, I was totally ready to hate this movie. Ultraviolence in live-action movies really turns me off, even with otherwise great action. So, I assumed this would be a nonstop gorefest due to the trailers presenting it as such. Yes, I knew about it’s politically charged premise, and that’s the primary reason I had any interest in the movie, but I was sure it would have taken a backseat to all of the blood and viscera on display. The only reason I ended up seeing it is because a friend of mine really wanted to.
But I’m glad I did because I ended up liking this movie way more than I expected.
The first few minutes contain probably 70% of the movie’s goriest moments, and a lot of them are played for laughs. I didn’t find them that funny personally, as I was too busy being horrified, especially by all the scenes with that girl in the pit (if you know, you know). But I do think it’s really neat how we don’t get to truly meet our protagonist until a third of the film is already past. It makes the viewer almost equally uncertain about what’s happening as the “prey” are at the start of the movie.
After the start, things start taking major left turns, in a good way. We go from the bubbling idiots dropping like flies to the cold and calculated behavior of Chrystal, the protagonist, and her handling of this situation makes the film feel a lot more structured. Every scene with her is a highlight and despite the big personalities of every co-star, on both sides of the conflict, she manages to still be the standout in every scene. I wanna give a huge shout out to the final few scenes specifically, because it was just as intense and brutal as it was awkward and hilarious, and the way it all wraps up was immensely gratifying.
Now, with exception to the main character, everyone else played some kind of stereotype. Because so many of them don’t stick around for long at all, they don’t get the chance to overstay their welcome. Think about the Kaitlin Bennetts and Alex Jones’ of the world and you got your “prey”, then think of your Hillary Clintons and Elon Musks’ of the world, and you have your “hunters”.
Though they don’t have much room to work with, almost all of them have great performances and some of thier lines got genuine laughs from me, despite how fucked up it was. All they really are there for is to have a handful of lines to let the audience know why they’re despicable and then kill them off. And sure, while some kills are overly gratuitous, a lot of the ones in the second half were actually pretty cool and had some great fight choreography. It’s not the next John Wick or anything, but it’s action more than gets the job done.
As for the plot, which I’ll be talking around to avoid spoilers, I did really enjoy the twist on what “The Hunt” actually is and it’s origins. The creation of this even is due to something so trivial, avoidable, and stupid that, if these charaters weren’t already characterized as impulsive, I wouldn’t have bought it at all. But I did, and despite it being a bit on the nose, I thought it was a very gratifying way to get this event started.
I also really enjoyed how every one that was chosen to be hunted was done so for a specific reason, albeit that reason often didn’t fit the punishment of an extremely violent death. Plus, I did really enjoy how they handled the ending. It did get a little fairy tale-ish at the end, but I loved how matter-a-fact it was and how it showed another aspect of Chrystal’s charater.
This movie has made many headlines thanks to it being about the polarized political climate we’ve been in for at least the last half-decade. But now that I’ve seen the actual movie, I find it hard to understand why it was delayed from releasing last year. Yes, it contains a lot of stereotypes, but it critiques both sides of political extremes. There are just as many jabs at “the political elite” as there are to “inbred rednecks”. No one is safe, so any offense to either party is greatly dulled or even canceled out entirely by satisfying digs at the other side. The movie seems to have a message of “their both bad, lol” which I can easily see a case for, but to me, I saw it as showing the dangers of being an extremist on either side rather than the showing the danger of picking a side in the first place.
Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised buy the fact that this movie isn’t just palatable, but straight up enjoyable. If you have a stomach weak enough to be shaken by the brief moments of extreme gore, then stay away. If you’re looking for a nuanced portrayal of our modern political climate, look elsewhere. And if you’re already one of the extremists this movie so aggressively disapproves of….actually, this is exactly the movie for you! But if you’ve heard the controversy and were curious if it held up to the hype, it is indeed a solid film that’s more than worth your time.