Review: ‘The Hunt’ has the left and the right in its crosshairs

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By Randy Myers

Horror films tap into the mood and fears of contemporary culture better than any other genre. Except for satire.

When you combine satire and horror, your nerves and thoughts are in for a killer workout.

“The Hunt,” the much-vilified film delayed from its summer 2019 release and out this Friday, does a bloody good job at doing both. It takes a sharp cleaver and swipes and jabs at the left and the right, cutting through the sinew of hypocrisy and extremism on both sides.

Craig Zobel’s reinvention of the 1932 classic film “The Most Dangerous Game”  is entertaining, smart and cynical — never choosing one side over the other. And just like some of the best topical films in the genre — such as “The Purge” — “Hunt” make us laugh and squirm — at the same time.

The scenario is seemingly  simple: A bunch of liberals engage in a cat-and-mouse killing game, taking down “rednecks.” The extreme liberals — I’m not going to name the stars who play them since that mutes  plot twists — are self-involved and argue constantly. Ditto the extreme conservatives caught in the crosshairs. Sound familiar? You bet. 

The predictable setup — with 12 people being sought for slaughter — doesn’t extend to an obvious screenplay. Co-writers Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof redeem Blumhouse after the hellishly inept “Fantasy Island” reboot, going for full gusto here from start to finish.

The  in-on-the-joke cast, which includes a standout Betty (“Glow”) Glipin, Hilary Swank, Ike Barinholtz, Amy Madigan and so on, convincingly enable the writers’ mission. They play it straight throughout, going over the top when warranted and it’s often warranted.  

Zobel’s film received a lot of exposure when its September 2019 release was delayed after two mass shootings. That’s understandable given the extreme violence in “The Hunt.”

Sobel’s film, though, doesn’t fuel extremism. It exposes the idiocy of hate and how when its fanned from social media fake claims and outrage leads to a dead-end for us all. 

“The Hunt”

3 out of 4 stars 

Opens Friday

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