Complete A-Z list

Hunt, The


Stars: Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, Ike Barinholtz, Emma Roberts, Ethan Suplee, Amy Madigan, Wayne Duvall, Reed Birney, Chris Berry, Sturgill Simpson, Charli Slaughter

Director: Craig Zobel

The theme of human beings being hunted by other humans has been a virtual guarantee of success and controversy at the box-offices of the world since the early days of sound films (think The Island of Lost Souls or The Most Dangerous Game/Hounds of Zaroff, both made in 1932) right up the The Hunger Games films of recent times. It is, then, a 'sport' that appeals to the more visceral of our instincts.

The hunters getting an adrenalin rush in this often too-gory-to-be-serious example are a group of liberal-minded, well-educated if somewhat unhinged individuals who see their prey as a group of society's undesirables, or, as the film has it, 'deplorables', non politically-correct animals such as gun-lovers.

A group of 12 such people wakes up in a field, confused, bewildered and gagged with locked collars. And, beset by grisly traps and weapons of all sorts, they are soon on the run. But the hunters have reckoned without one of the women, Crystal (Gilpin), an Iraq veteran who knows all about survival.

And we can root for Crystal since her presence in the hunt is a matter of mistaken identity. Gilpin, an actress unfamiliar to me, who has made her name as a wrestling woman in the TV series GLOW, is the driving force whose gritty performance gives the film a solid centre. This particular quarry is lethally dangerous and her climactic battle with the hunters' leader (a gleefully scenery-chewing Swank) is a doozy.

Although its action fairly fizzes along, the film is a lot less successful in the dialogue department, full of trite exclamations that fail to lift it towards the level of best best survivalist thrillers.

One early victim who gets blown in half can only fall back on expletives at her plight, although she might have done better to have borrowed Ronald Reagan's famous line from Kings Row and howled out 'where's the rest of me?'.

David Quinlan

USA 2019. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour by Company 3.
89 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 13 Mar 2020