Twelve individuals from across America are drugged, kidnapped, and dumped in the woods. Shortly after, although they’re provided with weapons, they find themselves being hunted for sport. These “deplorables” include Staten Island (Ike Barinholtz), Yoga Pants (Emma Roberts), Gary (Ethan Suplee), Vanilla Nice (Sturgill Simpson), and Crystal (Betty Gilpin), who lead the wealthy “elites” pursuing them, headed by Athena (Hilary Swank), on a merry chase.
The Hunt was finished in 2019 and set for release in September of that year, but the combination of two shootings and political backlash caused it to get not just postponed but canceled entirely. Turns out that use of the word “deplorables” did not sit well with conservatives, especially when taken out of context. (Funny how the phrase “our ratfucker-in-chief”, used in the same scene, didn’t draw any ire.) In case you don’t remember that basket of controversy surrounding the d-word, during the 2016 election Hilary Clinton put her foot in her mouth calling Trump supporters deplorables and making sweeping generalizations that roughly half of them are just garbage people. Thankfully, the movie was later released in June of 2020, mostly thanks to Jason Blum of production company Blumhouse. You can read the whole story in detail here if you like.
Politics are a driving force behind the themes, but it’s not all that cut and dry. When the movie opens, we don’t know what’s happening other than people have been rounded up in order to be executed. It’s easy to assume that they’re Democrats, because stereotypically Republicans are the violent gun fans, and almost all of the deplorables are prominently wearing blue, while juxtaposed scenes of Athena show her wearing red. It’s ironic that conservatives got bent out of shape about the movie, since liberals are the villains. They’re simpering snowflakes who trip over themselves trying to be as politically correct as possible. Except for Athena, who’s pissed at the world and extremely stabby. The film plays with your expectations throughout, highlighting how unethical and frankly dangerous it is to blindly categorize people based on assumptions.
The film centers around two strong female leads. Athena is cruel and deadly, yet suave and sophisticated. Crystal is a badass who handles all situations with grace, good humor, and lightning-quick reflexes. She’s out to protect herself first, but in one scene she shields a woman with a baby during an explosion.
Suspense is sustained throughout the movie, along with fast-paced action. It’s also surprisingly funny. I don’t want to spoil all the good stuff, but here’s one of my favorite quotes: [After a character is shot with arrows] “What is this Avatar shit?” Overall, I enjoyed it thoroughly. Give it a look if you’re in the mood for something thrilling but intelligent.