Movie Review: “The Hunt”

There’s something inherently tone-deaf in a gory satire cooked up by Hollywood “elites” mocking liberal “elites” hunting “deplorables” for sport.

Maybe the film schooled screenwriters of “The Hunt” have a firm grasp of liberal tropes — the ones Fox News mocks morning, noon and night. There’s the PC speech.

“Don’t joke about AIDS!”

“Don’t joke about ‘CHOICE!'”

There’s the mincing “foodie” identifiers, group chatting about the “Rat-f—-r-in-chief” and “education-impaired rednecks,” looking down their “liberal Deep State elite” sculpted noses at everybody who ever wore a name tag to work.

Because they’re all about fashion.

“Is that a KIMONO? APPROPRIATION, Richard!”

So sure, “nailed it.” But “THOSE people” walk into a minefield and lose all their nerve when trying to depict those “salt of the Earth” plumbers, hairdressers, waitresses and “gun-clutching homophobes” who provide the heroes — or heroine — of their botched flipping of the “deplorable/elites” script.

The group of super-rich, super-PC “hunters” whose ranks include Amy Madigan, Jennifer Garner, Steve Coulter and Glenn Howerton are sketched in. The assorted bubbas, a veteran, a “big game hunter” and others they’re hunting aren’t so much as outlined.

The joke here is that every paranoid “Q-Anon” Alex Jones/Hannity conspiracy trotted out by the Loony Right smacks of truth when eleven victims are drugged, tossed on a plane and taken off to “The Manor” for a sport-hunt where they are “The Most Dangerous Game.”

“Manorgate” they and their kind have been calling it (“Google it !”) the replacement for “Pizzagate” and assorted other “what’s REALLY going on” schemes that Internet age gullibles buy into.

That’s why podcasting gun-nut Gary (Ethan Suplee) and “Airborne” vet Don (Wayne Duvall) blurt out “I know EXACTLY what’s going on” more than once when they throw in with our heroine “with very particular skills.” That would be Crystal, played by Betty Gilpin of TV’s “GLOW” and “A Dog’s Journey” and “Isn’t It Romantic?”

Crystal’s the one who wakes up, lock-gagged and in the woods but knowing how to make a compass out of her name-tag pin, a little friction and a leaf floating in a pond. (Shown in “The Edge,” and no — it doesn’t work, film school boys).

Most of this “deplorable” group is gruesomely shot, pierced or blown-up before they can get their bearings and figure out they’re being hunted. A couple of famous (ish) faces are in those ranks.

But Crystal is the one defies the odds, and Gilpin has a lot of fun deadpanning this smartest-prey-in-the-woods Amazon. She listens to the “I KNOW what’s happening” trigger-happy dunces like she’s been doing it her whole life. Growing up in Mississippi, that seems like a fair bet.

Don in particular is blown away by her ruthlessness, her mad killing skills and her disinterest in “theories” about what they’re in the middle of. After all, she got the drop of folks with all the weapons and the element of surprise, hunters who’d been told “Just have a little fun with her.”

“Why didn’t they just KILL you?”

“Don’t care.”

Let the others giggle about “blowing the lid off” this “conspiracy” by being “on Hannity, like them two Jew boys who got Nixon!”

Crystal is into figuring out where they are, how to arm herself and using those arms to get out. But none of the escaping “victims” had reckoned on these soft Lindsey Graham-voiced sissies having such a blood lust.

“I thought they were all vegan?”

Director Craig Zobel (“Compliance,” TV’s “One Dollar”) has things skipping past us for about 45 minutes when the script pauses for a long, stupid faux Southern anecdote. The film stops cold while we consider Gilpin’s feeble Mississippi accent, the urgency that just left their “escape” attempt and why the movie only uses “Jew boys” that once, when — thanks to the writers and the director — more “leaning into” that blind spot was in order.

Why have the “liberal elites” mince around “those people” using “the N-word.” Have a hypocrite USE it, right after “Ooo, Ava DuVernay liked my tweet!”

Mocking people who believe in “Crisis actors” is fine. Why pussyfoot around Islamophobia and xenophobia?

Why not say what conservative dog whistlers mean when they say “Hollywood elites” and “liberal elites?” #Hollywood2Jewish.

A whole “those people” debate about African Americans, based on current “NPR” usage is punctuated with a lame, “And WHO’S on NPR?” rejoinder. “WHITE people.”

“Jews” would’ve been funnier and more accurate. In Bubbaland, we’ve been known to call NPR “B’Nai Brith Broadcasting,” where you shouldn’t hold your “Brith” waiting for a non Jewish host or hostess to interview assorted experts named Cohen, Levy or Stein.

Go ahead, Blumhouse Boys — touch the third rail of Hollywood “identity politics.”

But that would’ve given this limp “satire” bite and guts, something it lacks, start to finish. The contempt is supposed to cut both ways/SEVERAL ways. And it never does. Toothless.

Sorry, did I offend? That’s kind of the point of satire. This movie has an echo chamber feel and tone and offends no one.

Pulling this gruesomely violent picture from release after one of many NRA-sponsored mass shootings just gave it a notoriety it doesn’t warrant.

And tipping its plot just gave Fox News and its ilk something to be outraged about so that they don’t have to talk about open corruption, impeachment or the “fake” pandemic.

Gilpin revels in playing tough, smart, cool and pitiless. She doesn’t register pain, fear or worry, but that’s quibbling. And knowing that “Million Dollar Baby” Oscar winner Hilary Swank is in it just sets up a “girl fight” for the ages.

Aside from that, “The Hunt” is like sitting in a deer blind (Look it up, Hollywoodies) on the wrong corner of the pasture. Pointless.

MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence, and language throughout.

Cast: Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, Ike Barinholtz, Ethan Suplee, Emma Roberts, Amy Madigan

Credits: Directed by Craig Zobel, script by Nick Cuse, Damon Lindelof. A Blumhouse/Universal release.

Running time: 1:29

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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