The Hunting Ground

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Hunting Ground Movie Poster Image
Grim docu shines much-needed light on campus rape epidemic.
  • PG-13
  • 2015
  • 102 minutes

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Kids say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The filmmakers are trying to shine a bright light on an issue that many colleges would prefer to sweep under the carpet, bringing it to the public's attention so that it can be addressed.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The two women at the center of the story refuse to just be victims. Instead, they've become outspoken activists, determined to make sure that the world knows their assaults are far from isolated incidents. Their stories open the door to many other women to tell their own experiences -- and to be become part of a growing chorus demanding action.

Violence

The entire film is about an epidemic of violent rape at colleges all across the country. We don't see any of the attacks, but many women share detailed, harrowing, and disturbing stories of violence. And what's even more disturbing is that there are so many women who've had very similar experiences. Some scenes include hateful images, including written threats and insults aimed at women who've spoken up about being assaulted.

Sex

Details of violent sexual encounters are described, but the content has everything to do with violence and nothing to do with passionate/romantic sex or love.

Language

Occasional swearing, including "s--t" and "bitch."

Consumerism

Dozens of well-known universities are mentioned by name, but it's hardly in a promotional way, as all of the stories involving them are about how the administrations failed to help assault victims.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Several scenes show college students drinking at bars, parties, and athletic events, and some of them are clearly quite drunk when they share their opinions with the camera. Many women share stories about being drugged and then assaulted or how they were taken advantage of when they were drunk. As one person explains, "alcohol is a weapon."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Hunting Ground is a searing documentary that examines the epidemic of sexual violence on college campuses. Women (and a few men) detail their horrific experiences -- and their schools' incredibly, frustratingly tepid responses. The stories are detailed and graphic and often hard to hear. Any girl in college or nearing college age would do well to watch this, as should parents of both teen girls and boys. In addition to the pervasive topic of sexual violence, there's some brief profanity ("s--t" and "bitch") and many scenes showing college students getting drunk at parties, as well as references to victims being drugged.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 17 years old Written byJett Q March 13, 2015

Very good

This is a very good documentary about sexual abuse, and it mentions what we rarely hear about it. I think watching it would help a lot of young girls to be info... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old May 27, 2016

Brilliant and thought-provoking but heartbreaking and graphic documentary is shocking.

This disturbing and shocking documentary about women rape at college's points out many interviews of women and their stories how they were raped at many di... Continue reading

What's the story?

Almost 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted while at college. Most of them never report it, and those who do often regret their choice. The perpetrators are rarely punished, while the survivors are often shamed -- or worse. THE HUNTING GROUND examines the epidemic of sexual violence on college campuses and how the schools are motivated to protect the institutions rather than the victims. The movie argues that the situation was born from a toxic stew of alcohol, drugs, youth, and a culture of privilege -- and that it could continue to go unchecked as long as it remains hidden.

Is it any good?

This should be required viewing for any young woman embarking on a college career, any young man who wants to understand why women have a very different college experience, and all of their parents. This powerful documentary exposes the epidemic of rape at some of the nation's most revered educational institutions -- and what makes it even more potent is its focus on two women who took their harrowing experiences and turned them into a movement to help others in the same tragic position. Annie Clark and Andrea Pino deserve special praise, not only for being willing to share their experiences, but for their efforts in organizing fellow students to fight back -- and then taking that fight to campuses all over the country.

Director Kirby Dick covered similar territory in his Oscar-nominated film on rape culture in the U.S. military, The Invisible War, and here he's trying to shine a light on something else that has been hidden for far too long. He humanizes the statistics behind campus rape, making the victims' experiences into something that not only teaches but compels action.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about sexual violence. Why do you think it's so pervasive on college campuses? What can students -- male and female -- learn from watching The Hunting Ground?

  • What do you think about the ways the schools respond when women say they've been raped? In your mind, what should happen?

  • One person says that "alcohol is a weapon." What does that statement mean in the context of this movie? Do you agree? If so, is there a way to de-weaponize it?

Movie details

  • In theaters: February 27, 2015
  • On DVD or streaming: December 1, 2015
  • Director: Kirby Dick
  • Studio: Radius TWC
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Run time: 102 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: disturbing thematic material involving sexual assault, and for language

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