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Review: 'The Hunt' (2020) Dir. Craig Zobel

Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, Ike Barinholtz, Ethan Suplee, Emma Roberts, Sturgill Simpson, Amy Madigan and Reed Birney


Director Craig Zobel turns the tide on fox hunting, deer hunting, pheasant hunting orany sort of hunting you can imagine, by making humans the target...

12 strangers awake in a clearing, bound and gagged, with a few weapons at their disposal. As gunshots ring out, it becomes clear these strangers are together for one reason - they're being hunted.

With no idea as to exact locations or why they are there, the body count soon starts to pile up as this real-world hunt begins with danger and traps around every corner in the event known as ‘Manor Gate’.

But one of the 12, Crystal Creasey (Gilpin), is clued up and begins to fight back in the outside arena, not knowing what is real or what is fake, in order to stay alive and hunt their hunters…

With the level of brutal shock tactics used in the violent opening 5 minutes, ‘The Hunt’ sets out its stall as a short, sharp violent look at two sides of the American political spectrum. 12 individuals representing a mix of political affiliation of the American people awake in an unknown location, not even sure if they are on American soil, are targets. Targets of the wealthy, political elite.

What better way to exercise personal beliefs and political ideas than hunting down and maiming, blowing up, shooting and stabbing those who don’t agree with you? That’s the game, and those who are being hunted find their chances slim to none. Cue tough-talking, no-nonsense Betty Gilpin who is clued up to the goings on, and fights back. 

Armed with anything she can get her hands on (think of her as a female Rambo), Gilpin’s character Crystal leads the rebellion against those elite hunting them down.

While ‘The Hunt’ seems very straight forward as the film progresses, it becomes more uncomfortable and obscure with each little twist and turn. It becomes harder to know who to trust, what to trust or what to think. Blending political satire, horror and brutal action, it’s class v class. The elite, led by master-bitch Athena, played with mysterious aplomb by Hilary Swank, just want to hunt the "deplorables of society" for the fun of it. They don’t expect Crystal to fight back.

Director Craig Zobel keeps things simple and snappy, with no evident budget extravaganza or Hollywood A-listers (bar Swank), this story all rests on Gilpin and her powerful screen presence. She has the attitude, the pathos, the bravado and the balls to be a one-woman wrecking ball hunting down her hunter’s one at a time.

It hinges on these subtle twists and turns, undercut with a tense and eerie soundtrack by Nathan Barr, as the suspense increases and the body count stacks up before we get our answers.

‘The Hunt’ is nothing special, but it’s a rare slice of a dark, short, sharp thriller running with the undercurrent of political and social discomfort that unwinds with juicy intrigue to a final showdown between two strong leads.

'The Hunt' is a Blumhouse Productions production

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