‘The Hunt’ Explained: A Controversial Horror Comedy That Lives Up To The Hype

Betty Gilpin plays Crystal
Betty Gilpin plays Crystal in The Hunt (2020)

After much prolonged controversy and internet drama, The Hunt was included in the first set of films to be released on Amazon Prime Video Cinema, a service Amazon tested out in March 2020 where theatrical releases become available to stream for $20 per video rental. The main reason there had been so much fanfare was because of the release’s plot, which revolves around a handful of people being hunted like animals. Rumors circulated that the movie was meant to depict Trump voters being gunned down and the opening was moved back several times. 

Cancellation/Controversy

The Hunt was supposed to be released September 27, 2019 but it was originally delayed following a pair of mass shootings in August 2019. It was given an October release date and then later removed from the studio’s release calendar completely. Given that the movie was originally titled Red State Vs. Blue State it also received criticism based on what it might contain; namely content that fueled hatred at rural, working class voters. 

After the controversy died down, The Hunt was released on March 13, 2020 and released to Amazon streaming a few weeks later due to many theaters being temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. The film was not changed at all from the version scheduled to be released in September 2019.

Plot

Betty Gilpin tries to escape The Hunt

The Hunt follows eleven people who wake up gagged in a rural wood. In a nearby clearing, the group finds a large cargo box and open it. Inside the box, they find a bounty of weapons — though as soon as they are brought out and the people ungag each other they begin to be shot at from a distance. Some realize that the situation resembles an urban legend about a group of liberal elites who gather “deplorables” on the grounds of one of their mansions and hunt them down for sport. Then, The Hunt begins.

The Hunt Review

The Hunt is not scary. HOWEVER, The Hunt is great for all the other reasons horror movies are great. As a campy horror comedy, The Hunt delivers. It succeeds as a satire and has genuinely shocking and tense moments followed by perfect comic relief. 

There’s also a great revenge/strong female lead vibe going on in The Hunt. If you’re in the mood to see a woman be self-reliant and take matters into her own hands, you’re going to love watching this movie. Betty Gilpin is an engaging heroin and she is fun to watch as she turns the tables on her would-be murderers. 

The political themes of The Hunt are really just for fun. Both sides are lampooned and satirized. No real voters were harmed in the making of this film. I was worried the political jokes would fall flat, but it was just refreshing and fun. I didn’t feel any election fatigue while watching this.

If you’re in the mood for a campy survival slasher movie, The Hunt will deliver big time. It knows all the typical rules of horror movies and isn’t afraid to shock you or poke fun at them or abandon them completely. The Hunt feels both like horror cannon and like something completely fresh.

Cast

Our badass redneck heroin is played by Betty Gilpin (GLOW). 

Ike Barinholtz (The Mindy Project), Emma Roberts (American Horror Story, Scream 4), and Justin Hartley (This Is Us) play characters who are hunted. 

Justin Hartley plays the character, "Trucker"
Justin Hartley and Emma Roberts also star as “the hunted”

Hillary Swank (of being Hillary Swank) and Glen Howerton (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) star as the liberal elites, hunting from the safety of their secluded mansion.  

Rating

The Hunt is rated ‘R’. As it is a movie about hunting people there is gore. The concept is also pretty scary and sick in itself. I wouldn’t watch it with children, though as far as gore goes, I’ve definitely seen worse.

Movies like ‘The Hunt’

Some movies that are similar to the vibe of The Hunt

  • Battle Royale (2000). A group of Japanese school children are hunted down on an island. (Subtitled). 
  • The Hunger Games series. Each year in dystopian Panem, 12 children are chosen to battle to the death in an arena.
  • Get Out (2017). Another horror movie with an original plot that has great comedic moments.
  • Scream Queens (2015). Ryan Murphy’s Horror-Comedy TV series. 
  • The Purge series. A dystopian near future account of a day where it’s legal to hunt people.
  • You’re Next (2011). A survival horror about a mysterious group of masked men who prey on a family vacationing at their cabin. 
  • April Fool’s Day (1986). The bible of horror camp.
  • Black Rock (2012). Three women must fight to the death with two men stalking them on a desolate island.