The Hunt: Darkly humourous action thriller | Sunday Observer

The Hunt: Darkly humourous action thriller

4 July, 2021

The Hunt is a 2020 American horror thriller film directed by Craig Zobel and written by Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof. The film stars Betty Gilpin, Ike Barinholtz, Amy Madigan, Emma Roberts, Ethan Suplee, and Hilary Swank. Jason Blum was a producer under his Blumhouse Productions banner, along with Lindelof. Both Zobel and Lindelof have said that the film is intended as a satire on the profound political divide between the American left and right.

The film was first announced in March 2018, and the cast signed on a year later. Filming took place in New Orleans. The film was originally scheduled for release on September 27, 2019.

However, as a result of the Dayton and El Paso mass shootings in early August 2019, Universal Pictures decided to delay it. The studio announced the delay in the days after receiving criticism from U.S. President Donald Trump and right-wing media for its perceived bias.

‘The Hunt’ was theatrically released in the United States on March 13, 2020 by Universal Pictures and received mixed reviews from critics.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the closure of most theaters within a week of the film’s release, which resulted in the film underperforming at the box office, grossing only $16 million. Universal made ’The Hunt’ available digitally on March 20.

Initial reactions

‘The Hollywood Reporter’ wrote that there were a pair of test screenings for the film which garnered “negative reactions”. The second screening was held on August 6, 2019, in Los Angeles, in which “audience members were again expressing discomfort with the politics” of it, an issue Universal had not foreseen (although other studios had initially passed on the script for that reason). In a statement to Variety, Universal pushed back on a report that test audiences had been uncomfortable with the film’s political slant, and also countered claims that the script had originally had an explicitly political title.

Prior to the film’s initial shelving, the film attracted criticism from some of the media as a portrayal of liberal elitists hunting supporters of Donald Trump. Trump himself issued a tweet on August 9, 2019, calling “Liberal Hollywood”, “racist at the highest level” and writing, “The movie coming out is made in order to inflame and cause chaos”, adding “They create their own violence, and then try to blame others.” Although Trump did not specify the name of the film, news vehicles believed that was most likely a reference to ’The Hunt’. Some commentators, such as columnists for National Review, argued that the film would likely have a right-wing, anti-liberal tone that had been misinterpreted by conservative critics of the film’s trailer.

Box office

‘The Hunt’ grossed $5.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $10.4 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $16.2 million.

In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside ’Bloodshot’ and ’I Still Believe’, and was projected to gross $8–11 million from 3,028 theaters in its opening weekend. The film made $2.2 million on its first day, including $435,000 from Thursday night previews. It went on to debut to $5.3 million, finishing fifth. The weekend was also noteworthy for being the lowest combined grossing since October 1998, with all films totaling just $55.3 million, in large part due to societal restrictions and regulations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the closure of many theaters due to COVID-19, the film played almost exclusively at drive-in theaters in the following weeks; it made $279,500 in its 11th weekend and $217,500 in its 12th weekend.

Critical response

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 57% based on 263 reviews, with an average rating of 5.90/10. The site’s critics consensus read, “ ‘The Hunt’ is successful enough as a darkly humorous action thriller, but it shoots wide of the mark when it aims for timely social satire.” On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 50 out of 100, based on 45 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “C+” on an A+ to F scale.