I saw ‘The Hunt,’ which had its release pulled over the summer. It’s deranged and extremely violent but is not about liberals hunting ‘deplorables.’

by jguerrasio@businessinsider.com (Jason Guerrasio) | INSIDER

The Hunt 2 Universal

Universal

  • Insider was one of the first to see the controversial thriller, “The Hunt.”
  • Universal announced on Tuesday that it’s releasing the movie on March 13. Previously, the movie was to open September 27, but was pulled following several mass shootings in August.
  • The movie grabbed headlines last year after reports made it seem it’s about liberal elites killing “deplorables” for sport. But that’s not what it’s about.
  • “The Hunt” is a twisted, violent satire that examines everything from woke culture to internet trolls.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

“The Hunt” will see the light of day.

That’s what I was told late last week when Universal called and invited me to see the movie before they announced on Tuesday that it will be released in theaters on March 13 (that’s right, Friday the 13th).

Though I had been told by sources over the span of months that sooner or later the movie would get a theatrical release, it was still shocking to sit in a nearly empty screening room and watch a movie that got so many people revved up, even President Trump. Though none of them had seen the movie yet.

the hunt universal

Universal

The film’s release was pulled in August 2019 after significant backlash

Originally, the Blumhouse Productions thriller/satire about 12 strangers who wake up in a field and begin to be hunted by private-jet flying elites was to be released last year on September 27. But in the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; and Gilroy, California, in early August, Universal pulled the release.

However, before Universal made that decision, the movie became a punching bag for commentators on Fox News and other conservative outlets. Universal staff even received death threats. And Trump seemed to reference the unreleased movie when he called Hollywood “really terrible” and “racist,” then later that day, tweeted, “the movie coming out is made in order … to inflame and cause chaos.”

Now Universal is taking that uproar and using it for the movie’s marketing. The poster released Tuesday includes the text, “The most talked about movie of the year is one that no one’s actually seen. Decide for yourself.”

the hunt poster

Universal

The movie is actually poking fun at everything from being ‘woke’ to internet trolls to cancel culture

“The Hunt” is so violent and so unapologetically twisted you can’t help but laugh over how absurd the whole movie is. (Honestly, it’s torture porn-level gore, so be prepared.)

It’s hard to explain the movie without giving away spoilers (so I’ll be light), but the story is pretty exact to the script I was given last year.

After a powerful business executive (played by Hilary Swank) and her colleagues joke in a text thread about kidnapping “deplorables” and dumping them on the grounds of a remote manor out in the country for “the hunt,” it actually becomes a reality after the thread finds its way online and becomes an internet conspiracy called “Manorgate.”

The hunted run for their lives as the hunters kill them for sport. But we learn this is not liberals versus conservatives. It’s more demented. 

The Hunt Universal

Universal

The reality is the movie uses the sensational nature of the thriller/horror genre to comment on society today. From woke culture to internet trolls to cancel culture (which wasn’t even a thing yet when this movie was made), all these are given satirical jabs. Not even the classic “Tortoise and the Hare” story is safe in this movie.

At its core, “The Hunt” is a sensationalized look at what happens when things are completely blown out of proportion. And the politics angle is a complete ruse within it.

But a movie cannot (or shouldn’t) be fueled by that alone. There needs to be someone in the story that the audience can get behind and root for through all of this blood-soaked madness, and that’s where Betty Gilpin comes in.

The star of Netflix’s “Glow” is absolutely perfect as Crystal, the only captured person who seems to have some kind of clue on how to survive. Gilpin gives Crystal the right mix of over-the-top outrage and deep-seated personal issues to concoct an intriguing character to watch for 90 minutes. She in no way is the traditional horror “final girl.”

The bottom line is “The Hunt” isn’t about blue states or red states. Director Craig Zobel and screenwriters Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse (who have all spent their careers finding joy in messing with audiences through their work, and have recently done so in their collaborations on “The Leftovers” and “Watchmen”) is using the audiences’ own triggers to show the absurdity of the actions that often follow.

The result is a gory good time that asks us to poke fun at ourselves and give everyone else a break for once.

Watch the new trailer below:

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