A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Hunt is a dark, extremely violent satire about a group of wealthy, elite liberals who hunt and kill a group of rural conservatives. It's incredibly graphic, with tons of blood and gore, exploding heads, bodies getting ripped in half, eyeballs being yanked out, etc. People (and a pig) are killed by guns, knives, arrows, and many other means, and there are extended fight scenes. Language is also extra-strong, with uses of "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and many more. A female character is briefly objectified while wearing a revealing outfit, but otherwise there's no sexual content. Characters smoke cigarettes, sip champagne, and mention being drugged. Despite the controversy around the movie's original, canceled 2019 release, it's actually well-made and clever, skewering everyone equally. Hilary Swank and Betty Gilpin co-star.
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What's the story?
In THE HUNT, a woman named Athena (Hilary Swank) texts with a group of liberal friends. They're discussing "the hunt," in which they'll go out and kill a group of "deplorables." Later, a man wakes up to find himself on a plane. The well-dressed people he sees tell him he "woke up too soon" and kill him. Then more people wake up, gagged, in the woods. They discover a crate full of guns and other weapons -- and, before long, they're being shot at and killed. Only Crystal (Betty Gilpin) seems wise enough to stay a jump ahead of her tormenters. Using her wits and some kind of elite training, she fights her way to the end of the puzzle and faces off with its chief architect, Athena. But nothing is quite as it seems.
Is it any good?
Insanely gory but also fiendishly funny, this clever dark satire takes a familiar scenario and uses it to boldly skewer both red and blue Americans, painting both sides as equally absurd. The Hunt is brightly, cheerfully in control of its situation, like a master comedian working the room. It seems to have done what few others could even imagine, which is to correctly parody the attributes of both extremes of American political ideologies without anger or hate. It merely finds everyone preposterous.
Director Craig Zobel, who also questioned the worst of human behavior in Compliance, and co-writers Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof (of the Watchmen TV series), start The Hunt with a series of shocks. They break all the rules and let us know that anything is possible, that whatever is going to happen will likely happen before we're ready for it. The movie is smooth, fast-moving, and intricately designed. If it has a flaw, it lies in Gilpin's Crystal. She's amazingly cool, resourceful, and appealing in her slow, thoughtful way of speaking. But she tips the balance of the political satire, making it not quite an equal roasting of both sides. However, she's so fascinating -- and mysterious -- that it's easy to forgive.
Talk to your kids about ...
Does the movie equally satirize both sides of the American political spectrum? What does it ultimately say? Does it have anything positive to offer?
Is the movie funny? What exactly is "dark humor," and why do we sometimes laugh at things that are otherwise so disturbing?
Is Crystal a role model? Is she objectified?
Do you think the controversy around the film's original release was warranted? Why or why not?
- In theaters: March 13, 2020
- On DVD or streaming: March 20, 2020
- Cast: Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, Emma Roberts
- Director: Craig Zobel
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong bloody violence, and language throughout
- Last updated: May 23, 2021
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