Vampire Owl: The vampires haven’t been into the hunt much these days.
Vampire Bat: Well, only the werewolves hunt now, as we have outlawed the same.
Vampire Owl: The law hasn’t really been officially passed yet.
Vampire Bat: There is nothing official about the laws these days.
Vampire Owl: You mean to say that the bats no longer hunt either.
Vampire Bat: Yes, it has been brought to a halt with the spread of COVID-19.
Vampire Owl: You mean to say that we are also afraid of viruses now.
Vampire Bat: Yes, only the ones passed on by humans, not the one’s from bats.
Vampire Owl: I am pretty sure that the humans created their own viruses.
Vampire Bat: They have been doing everything harmful to their own people and planet, which is why we should close the connection portal with their world forever.
[Gets a vancho cake and three cups of masala tea].
What is the movie about? :: Athena Stone (Hilary Swank) is going through a group text about something grand which is supposed to happen soon, and it is referred to as “the hunt”, even though they had agreed not to text about it. Everyone in the group seems to be excited about it, but won’t talk about this one particular thing. Later, another one of the texters is on an airplane, and they find a man coming out of nowhere, and everyone in the flight panics, saying that he was not supposed to wake up so early. He is then attacked, and after losing a lot of blood and an eye, he is thrown back to an area where others are also kept sedated. Soon, eleven people wake up gagged in a forest. They find a large wooden box in the middle of an open area with weapons and the keys. Soon, some people start shooting at them, and as some of them die too soon, the others are supposed to try and survive this event of being hunted with advanced weapons by strangers.
So, what happens with the events here? :: Three captives somehow manage to escape over a barbed-wire fence to what seems to be part of normal civilization. They get into a service station, only to find out that it is run by people who are part of the hunt, and after poisoning the first person who tries to have food from there, this particular elderly people gets rid of others with guns and grenades. The couple enjoys the killings, and calling themselves elite, hopes to get rid of these people who were kidnapped and put in there. The next one to arrive is an army veteran, Crystal Creasey (Betty Gilpin) who has a conversation with the couple, finds out that they are lying about almost everything, and that they are all part of the plan. She also finds out that despite what they are trying to make them believe, they are not in the American state of Arkansas, but in Croatia, and there are traps set everywhere to make sure that they die, even if they are not taken out by attackers.
And what else is to follow with this strange hunt? :: Everything seems to go deeper than what is seen on the outside. Then, she comes up against another survivor, Gary (Ethan Suplee) who has a grand theory related to all of these, with some rich liberals trying to hunt the commoners for entertainment. He is very much focused on the same, but Crystal is not bothered about the same, and is focused only on surviving, as this does reminds her of some of her past. They also get in a train, and it also has some refugees – they find out that one of those refugees is a crisis actor, and others are real refugees. Gary ends up blowing him up with a grenade and is later killed. At the same time, Crystal ends up with the soldiers who don’t know what is going on, and she meets Don (Wayne Duvall) from the original eleven who was repeating the story which she was also narrating. But the soldiers do have problems believing them, and they understand that there might be hunters in between real people. Can they escape from all this trouble or meet their doom?
The defence of The Hunt :: Betty Gilpin is the biggest asset of this film, and this is the first time I am seeing her – she does make a perfect choice in an action film, maybe she will make it as a scream queen of horror consistently too, especially in slashers. The movie here is really good, and with its thrills and action sequences, continue to score throughout its run. There is a lot of action happening around here, and the fight scenes are really good, especially the final fights, not just in the manor, but also before that. The idea that the film actually makes fun of people on not just one side, for both the liberals and the right wing people are part of the humour. The film has some serious gory stuff going on at all times, but it is also a funny one along with all the action and thrills that go on. The atmosphere set for this one is nice, and there are some fine visuals to go with it. With the twists and turns in there and with expectations of the unexpected, The Hunt makes things happen, and it is efficient in doing the same.
Positives and negatives :: Hilary Swank is excellent as we already know she would be, but she is there only a few minutes. We would have expected her to stay throughout the film, but unfortunately, that is not the case, and the same is about Emma Roberts, who has almost no screen space around here, getting killed too early. The idea of using the funny side more than the darker side might not appeal to everyone either. The idea of revenge also gets a shock with the tale of the tortoise and the hare being told in a different way, with all the gore that is a feature of this film. There are many shades being explored in this film, and the way the leading character tells that tale, is nothing less than amazing in a very creepy manner. There seems to be many different messages that run through the film, and it also provides us with the choice to take any among them. The journey here is great, and we only wish that it didn’t end in an hour and half which is too less for this film, and it surely requires a sequel that explores similar elements again.
How it finishes :: The film also has references to George Orwell’s Animal Farm, and it has some fine dialogues, both monologues and one-liners which we can remember. There are so many creepy moments in here, and with its twists and turns, as well as the action, it has us interested in every second of its short, one and half hours run. In the beginning, you might feel that this could be like The Hunger Games and the German film, Breakdown Forest – yet, very soon, you will know that this is entirely different, and the innovation that it uses to skip away from the usual stuff also needs to be appreciated. The Hunt knows what it is doing, and with its realization of the possibilities of the same, a seemingly usual kind of premise is developed into something divergent, with class. With a lady lead that suits perfectly in here, there is a lot more to this film than what is seen in the trailer. If this was not affected by the first wave of pandemic, there was scope for more popularity, for sure.
Release date: 13th March 2020
Running time: 91 minutes
Directed by: Craig Zobel
Starring: Betty Gilpin, Emma Roberts, Hilary Swank, Ike Barinholtz, Wayne Duvall, Ethan Suplee, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Berry, Amy Madigan, Kate Nowlin, Reed Birney, Glenn Howerton, Sylvia Grace, Justin Hartley, Jason Kirkpatrick, Walker Babington, Macon Blair, Teri Wyble, Usman Ally, JC MacKenzie, Steve Coulter, Dean West, Vince Pisani, Steve Mokate, Hannah Alline, Tadasay Young, Jim Klock
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*** This is not to be confused with Haunt.
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.