The Hunt (2020 film)

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The Hunt
The Hunt 2020 poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byCraig Zobel
Produced by
Written by
  • Nick Cuse
  • Damon Lindelof
Starring
Music byNathan Barr
CinematographyDarran Tiernan
Edited byJane Rizzo
Production
company
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • March 11, 2020 (2020-03-11) (United Kingdom)
  • March 13, 2020 (2020-03-13) (United States)
Running time
89 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$14 million[2]
Box office$6.5 million[2]

The Hunt is a 2020 American horror thriller film[a] 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 serves as a producer under his Blumhouse Productions banner, along with Lindelof.[3] Both Zobel and Lindelof have said that the film serves as a satire on the profound political divide between the American left and right.[4]

The film was first announced in a March 2018, and the cast joined on a year later. Filming took place in New Orleans. The film was originally scheduled for release on September 27, 2019. However, following the Dayton and El Paso mass shootings in early August 2019, Universal Pictures decided to delay it. The film had also drawn criticisms from pundits on both sides of the political aisle, as well as U.S. President Donald Trump, for its perceived targeting of red-state voters and depiction of "liberal elites."

The Hunt was theatrically released in the United States on March 13, 2020. It received mixed reviews from critics and grossed $6 million. The film's financial shortcomings have been largely attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in the worldwide closure of movie theaters. Universal made the film available digitally just a week after its theatrical release.

Plot[edit]

In a group text, Athena Stone celebrates an upcoming hunt of "deplorables." Later, on her private jet, she kills a man who staggers out from the cargo hold.

Eleven captives wake up gagged, in a forest for the hunt. In a clearing, they find a cache of weapons and keys to their gags, but upon retrieving them, five are killed by an unseen enemy, and three escape over a barbed-wire fence to a gas station. The station's owners, an elderly couple, Miranda “Ma” and Julius “Pop”, identify their location as Arkansas. The three escapees, each kidnapped from a different part of the United States, realize their situation's similarity to the conspiracy theory "Manorgate". The couple reveal themselves as among the captors and kill all three.

A fourth captive named Crystal Creasey arrives at the gas station and, noticing that the station's cigarettes are too expensive for Arkansas, kills the couple with a sawn-off shotgun from under the counter. A truck outside hides Croatian number plates under false Arkansas plates. Crystal and another captive, a conspiracy theorist podcaster named Gary, board a train car full of refugees, whom Gary believes to be crisis actors; the train is raided by Croatian soldiers. When Gary tries to convince the soldiers of Manorgate and the refugees' perfidy, a refugee, “Crisis Mike” admits to Gary that he and only he is an actor, but says the raid was not planned for, and offers a head start for Gary's cooperation. Gary uses a grenade the actor had hidden to kill him, and Crystal is taken to a refugee camp.

Crystal meets another escaped prisoner named Don at the camp, and an American envoy, Oliver, arrives to take them to the embassy. As the envoy tries to make Don admit wrongdoing, Crystal kicks the envoy out of the car and runs him down, and she and Don find Gary's body in the trunk with a map. Crystal tells Don the story of "the Jackrabbit and the Box Turtle," a version of The Tortoise and the Hare in which the Jackrabbit kills the Box Turtle after losing. At the envoy's intended destination (which is shown to be where the captives originally found the weapons cache and were subsequently killed), Crystal kills the hunters she finds and wounds their consultant Sgt. Dale. Athena calls out to Don via radio, asking if he killed Crystal. When Don refuses to disarm, Crystal kills him. Crystal tortures the wounded Sgt. Dale to get Athena's location and after telling him, a National Guardsman, that she fought in Afghanistan, kills him.

A flashback suggests that Athena's text exchange had been a joke possibly based on the preexisting conspiracy theory, which cost her and others lucrative jobs. In revenge, they gathered up believers in Manorgate, rating them based on suitability. Despite Crystal's low rating, Athena takes her insults personally and insists on her. When Crystal confronts Athena, Athena mocks Crystal's personal history, and Crystal claims Athena studied the history of a woman with a similar name by mistake. After a long and brutal fight all around the house, Crystal and Athena impale one another on the two blades of a food processor; Athena dies, but Crystal gets a second wind upon seeing a jackrabbit and escapes on Athena's jet.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

In March 2018, Universal Pictures acquired the rights to the film, which would be directed by Craig Zobel with a script from Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof.[5][6] The original title of the script was Red State Vs. Blue State, a reference to the red states and blue states.[3] Later, Universal issued a statement denying that the film had ever had it as its working title.[7] The elite hunters' reference to their quarry as "deplorables" is an allusion to the phrase "basket of deplorables", used by Hillary Clinton during the 2016 United States presidential election campaign to refer to supporters of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.[8] An early draft of the script depicted working-class conservatives as the film's heroes.[7]

In March 2019, Emma Roberts, Justin Hartley, Glenn Howerton, Ike Barinholtz, and Betty Gilpin were announced as being cast in the film.[9][10][11] In April 2019, Amy Madigan, Jim Klock, Charli Slaughter, Steve Mokate, and Dean West joined the cast of the film.[12][13] Hilary Swank was announced as being cast in July.[14] Filming began on February 20, 2019, in New Orleans, and was completed on April 5.[15]

Nathan Barr composed the film score, replacing Heather McIntosh. Back Lot Music released the soundtrack.[citation needed]

Release[edit]

The film was scheduled for release on September 27, 2019. It was, for a time, moved back to October 18 before shifting back to its original release date of September 27.[16] On August 7, 2019, Universal announced that in the wake of the Dayton and El Paso mass shootings, they would be suspending the film's promotional campaign.[17][18] Several days later, the film was pulled from the studio's release schedule.[19][20]

In February 2020, the film's release in the United States had been rescheduled to March 13, 2020 (Friday the 13th), with a new trailer, partially in response to the success of the similarly controversial film Joker.[4][21][22] Producer Jason Blum stated in an interview that "not one frame was changed" since the delay and that it was "exactly the same movie".[23]

The Hunt was released on March 20 to streaming platforms, before the end of the usual 90-day theatrical run, by Universal Pictures in response to increased restrictions on screenings in movie theaters due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[24][25][26]

Reception[edit]

Initial reactions[edit]

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 very 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 a politically explosive title.[27] "While some outlets have indicated that test screenings for The Hunt resulted in negative audience feedback; in fact, the film was very well-received and tallied one of the highest test scores for an original Blumhouse film," a Universal spokesperson said. "Additionally, no audience members in attendance at the test screening expressed discomfort with any political discussion in the film. While reports also say The Hunt was formerly titled Red State vs. Blue State, that was never the working title for the film at any point throughout the development process, nor appeared on any status reports under that name."[27]

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.[18][28] Trump himself issued a tweet on August 9, 2019, calling "Liberal Hollywood" "[r]acist 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.[28][29][30] Some commentators, such as columnists for National Review, argued that the film actually had a right-wing, anti-liberal tone that was misinterpreted by conservative critics of the film.[31]

Box office[edit]

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.[32][33] 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 from societal restrictions and regulations due to the Coronavirus pandemic.[34]

Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 56% based on 213 reviews, with an average rating of 5.78/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "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."[35] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 50 out of 100, based on 45 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[36] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale.[34]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Sources differ as to the exact genre of the film; some have classified it as a thriller[37][38][39] (specifically satirical thriller,[4][40][41][42] horror thriller,[43][44] action thriller,[45][46] and political thriller[47]), while one has called it an action comedy.[48] Others have called it a horror film[1][49][6][50][51] or horror satire.[52][53]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Who's The Target In 'The Hunt' (2020)". Capt Cod Times. March 13, 2020. Retrieved March 24, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "The Hunt (2020)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Ads Pulled for Gory Universal Thriller 'The Hunt' in Wake of Mass Shootings (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. August 6, 2019. Archived from the original on September 15, 2019. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Masters, Kim (February 11, 2020). "'The Hunt' Is Back On: Universal Sets Release for Controversial Elites vs. "Deplorables" Satire (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved February 11, 2020.
  5. ^ N'Duka, Amanda; N'Duka, Amanda (March 28, 2018). "Universal, Blumhouse Pick Up 'The Hunt' From 'The Leftovers' Creator Damon Lindelof". Archived from the original on September 13, 2019. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Travers, Ben (July 6, 2018). "Jason Blum Has a Secret for Making Great Horror Films: Hire from TV". IndieWire. Archived from the original on April 4, 2019. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Lang, Gene Maddaus,Brent; Maddaus, Gene; Lang, Brent (August 19, 2019). "'The Hunt' Director Breaks Silence on Film's Cancellation (Exclusive)". Variety. Archived from the original on September 14, 2019. Retrieved August 20, 2019.
  8. ^ News; World (August 12, 2019). "Universal Pictures cancels Hilary Swank film depicting Liberal voters hunting Trump supporters | National Post". Retrieved August 13, 2019.
  9. ^ N'Duka, Amanda; N'Duka, Amanda (March 13, 2019). "Emma Roberts, 'This Is Us' Star Justin Hartley & Glenn Howerton Join Damon Lindelof's Thriller 'The Hunt'". Archived from the original on April 4, 2019. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  10. ^ N'Duka, Amanda; N'Duka, Amanda (March 15, 2019). "Ike Barinholtz Joins Universal/ Blumhouse Thriller 'The Hunt'". Archived from the original on April 4, 2019. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  11. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (March 25, 2019). "'GLOW' Star Betty Gilpin Set For 'The Hunt' From Universal & Blumhouse". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on April 4, 2019. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  12. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (April 9, 2019). "'The Hunt': Amy Madigan Cast In Universal, Blumhouse Political Thriller". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on June 4, 2019. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  13. ^ Williams, Trey (April 10, 2019). "Damon Lindelof, Jason Blum's 'The Hunt' Adds Jim Klock, Charli Slaughter, Dean West to Cast (Exclusive)". The Wrap. Archived from the original on September 20, 2019. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  14. ^ N'Duka, Amanda; N'Duka, Amanda (July 10, 2019). "Oscar Winner Hilary Swank Joins 'The Hunt' At Universal". Archived from the original on September 29, 2019. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  15. ^ Times-Picayune, Mike Scott, NOLA com | The. "Who's filming in Louisiana: From 'Jay and Silent Bob' to Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jamie Foxx". NOLA.com. Archived from the original on August 10, 2019. Retrieved August 10, 2019.
  16. ^ Pedersen, Erik (March 6, 2019). "Universal Shifts Damon Lindelof's 'The Hunt' To October; 'Addams Family' Moves Up A Week". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on March 8, 2019. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  17. ^ Beresford, Trilby; Rahman, Abid (August 7, 2019). "Universal Pulls 'The Hunt' Ads Amid Gun Violence Uproar". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on August 11, 2019. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  18. ^ a b Schrupp, Kenneth (August 9, 2019). "[Opinion] The Hunt and the Snowflake GOP: We're Better Than This". The California Review. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  19. ^ McClintock, Pamela; Beresford, Tribly (August 10, 2019). "Universal Scraps 'The Hunt' Release Following Gun Violence Uproar". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on September 4, 2019. Retrieved August 10, 2019.
  20. ^ Revely-Calder, Cal (August 12, 2019). "The Hunt called off: how a gun-crazy Hollywood liberal fantasy ended up in Trump's crosshairs". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on September 7, 2019. Retrieved August 13, 2019.
  21. ^ Wilkinson, Alissa (February 12, 2020). "Controversial film The Hunt is daring you to own the libs – or the right wing – by seeing it". Vox. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  22. ^ "What to Know About the Controversial Movie 'The Hunt'". Time. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  23. ^ Barnes, Brooks (February 11, 2020). "'The Hunt,' a Satire With Elites Killing 'Deplorables,' Is Revived". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 14, 2020. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  24. ^ Adams, Sam (March 16, 2020). "Universal Reacts to Coronavirus by Releasing New Movies Straight to Streaming". Slate. Retrieved March 16, 2020.
  25. ^ Lang, Brent (March 16, 2020). "Universal to Make 'Trolls World Tour,' 'The Hunt,' 'Invisible Man' Available Early on Home Entertainment". Variety. Archived from the original on March 17, 2020. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  26. ^ Alexander, Julia (March 18, 2020). "Trolls World Tour could be a case study for Hollywood's digital future". The Verge. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  27. ^ a b Siegel, Tatiana (August 14, 2019). "Behind Universal's Call to Scrap 'The Hunt': Death Threats, Negative Test Screening Feedback". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on September 21, 2019. Retrieved August 14, 2019.
  28. ^ a b "Trump criticizes Hollywood amid controversy over political satire 'The Hunt'". The Washington Post. August 9, 2019. Archived from the original on August 14, 2019. Retrieved August 10, 2019.
  29. ^ "Donald Trump Hits "Racist" Hollywood Again Over 'The Hunt,' Tinseltown Calls "Bullsh*t"". Deadline. August 9, 2019. Archived from the original on August 22, 2019. Retrieved August 13, 2019.
  30. ^ "Universal Just Canceled The Release Of The Hunt". Birth.Movies.Death. August 9, 2019. Archived from the original on September 7, 2019. Retrieved August 13, 2019.
  31. ^ "Pro-Trump Movie Cancelled, Thanks to Trump". The National Review. August 11, 2019. Archived from the original on August 12, 2019. Retrieved March 20, 2020.
  32. ^ Jeremy Fuster (March 10, 2020). "'I Still Believe' Expected to Top 'Bloodshot' and 'The Hunt' at Weekend Box Office". TheWrap. Archived from the original on March 11, 2020. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  33. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (March 11, 2020). "Vin Diesel Pic 'Bloodshot', K.J. Apa's 'I Still Believe' & Blumhouse's 'The Hunt' Hit Theaters Amid Coronavirus Jitters". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on March 12, 2020. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  34. ^ a b Anthony D'Alessandro (March 15, 2020). "Weekend Box Office Plunges To 22-Year-Low At $55M+, Theater Closings Rise To 100+ Overnight As Coronavirus Fears Grip Nation – Sunday Final". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on March 15, 2020. Retrieved March 15, 2020.
  35. ^ "The Hunt (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Archived from the original on February 21, 2020. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
  36. ^ "The Hunt Reviews". Metacritic. CBS. Archived from the original on March 14, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  37. ^ Blistein, Jon (February 11, 2020). "Controversial Film 'The Hunt' Receives New Trailer, Release Date". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on February 14, 2020. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  38. ^ Pulver, Andrew (February 11, 2020). "'Elites v deplorables' thriller The Hunt to finally get release". The Guardian. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  39. ^ Bojalad, Joseph Baxter Alec (February 11, 2020). "The Hunt Release Date and Trailer for Controversial Universal and Blumhouse Thriller". Den of Geek. Archived from the original on February 14, 2020. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  40. ^ Rico, Klaritza (February 12, 2020). "Producer Jason Blum on 'The Hunt' Rescheduling: 'If the Controversy Gets More People to See It, That's Okay with Me'". Variety. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  41. ^ Greenspan, Rachel E. (February 12, 2020). "What to Know About the Controversy Around the Movie The Hunt". Time. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  42. ^ Kurp, Josh (February 11, 2020). "'The Hunt,' The Controversial Movie That 'No One's Actually Seen,' Has A Release Date And Violent New Trailer". Uproxx. Archived from the original on February 14, 2020. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  43. ^ Collis, Clark (February 11, 2020). "The Hunt to be released in theaters next month despite criticism from Donald Trump". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on February 14, 2020. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  44. ^ Schaefer, Sandy (February 11, 2020). "The Hunt Gets New Release Date & Trailer Playing Into Trump Controversy". Screen Rant. Archived from the original on February 14, 2020. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  45. ^ Chitwood, Adam (February 11, 2020). "Jason Blum Says He Wants Trump to See 'The Hunt'". Collider. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  46. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (February 11, 2020). "'The Hunt' Back On Universal Release Schedule After Political Satire Deep-Sixed In Summer – Watch The Trailer". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on February 14, 2020. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  47. ^ Oneto, Petey (February 12, 2020). "The Hunt: Universal Sets New Release Date for Previously Pulled Political Thriller". IGN. Archived from the original on February 14, 2020. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  48. ^ Mendelson, Scott (February 11, 2020). "I've Seen 'The Hunt': Universal To Finally Release Blumhouse's Controversial Thriller On March 13". Forbes. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  49. ^ Cite error: The named reference Damon was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  50. ^ The Hunt on IMDb
  51. ^ The Hunt review: this horror movie might be 2020’s most controversial film, but is it really worth the hype?
  52. ^ "The Hunt review – silly horror satire". Archived from the original on March 18, 2020. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  53. ^ "How 'The Hunt' Makes a Convenience Store Inconvenient". Archived from the original on March 14, 2020. Retrieved March 18, 2020.

External links[edit]