LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – “The Hunt,” Universal and Blumhouse’s satirical political thriller that was marred by controversy before it even saw the light of day, is finally making its way to theaters and will be released theatrically on Friday, March 13.
The film, depicting a group of elites that hunt ordinary Americans for sport, was initially set to debut last September. But the studio suspended the marketing campaign in wake of mass shootings in Texas, Ohio and California and ultimately pulled the movie from its slate.
Prior to “The Hunt” being shelved, President Donald Trump criticized the film on Twitter. Though he didn’t mention the movie by name, he took aim at “liberal Hollywood.” “The movie coming out is made in order to inflame and cause chaos,” he wrote on Aug. 9, a day before “The Hunt” was scrapped. “They create their own violence, and then try to blame others. They are the true Racists, and are very bad for our Country!”
….to inflame and cause chaos. They create their own violence, and then try to blame others. They are the true Racists, and are very bad for our Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 9, 2019
Universal also released a new trailer and poster on Tuesday, along with a new tagline that reads: “The most talked about movie of the year is the one nobody has seen … yet.”
New poster for the delayed controversial movie 'The Hunt' calls it "the most talked about movie of the year." pic.twitter.com/gItTyXRVQc
— Lights, Camera, Pod (@LightsCameraPod) February 11, 2020
“The Hunt” follows 12 strangers who wake up in a clearing, unaware that they’ve been kidnapped an chosen to be hunted in a game devised by “liberal elites.” Betty Gilpin, Ike Barinholtz, Emma Roberts and Hilary Swank star.
“The last I heard, free speech still exists,” Swank’s character says in the trailer, perhaps also alluding to controversy surrounding the film. “It wasn’t real. We were joking.”
Later she says, “You actually believed we were hunting human beings for sport?”
“The Hunt” Trailer is reportedly a spoiler
Early write-ups of “The Hunt” have been cryptic.
Forbes’ Scott Mendelson wrote that “The Hunt” “is precisely what you’ve heard it is” but also “entirely harmless.”
He said, “it’s a riff on ‘The Most Dangerous Game’ whereby rich folks kidnap and hunt other humans for sport. As left unspoiled in the first teaser but explained in detail in this new trailer, the hunters consider themselves to be woke progressives and the targets are stereotypical deplorables.”
However, he added: “The film is not a soapbox stump speech or political firestorm in cinematic form. It’s not even a ‘Disclosure’-style ‘What if?’ that attempts to be transgressive by playing out in opposition to how you might expect. It’s a black comedy that expects you to take its exaggerated premise at face value.”
“If you can resist the urge, I strongly advise you not to watch the new trailer,” he said.
Business Insiders’ Jason Guerrasio described the movie like this:
After a powerful business executive (played by Hilary Swank) and her colleagues joke in a text thread about kidnapping “deplorables” and dumping them on the grounds of a remote manor out in the country for “the hunt,” it actually becomes a reality after the thread finds its way online and becomes an internet conspiracy called “Manorgate.”
The hunted run for their lives as the hunters kill them for sport. But we learn this is not liberals versus conservatives. It’s more demented.
The reality is the movie uses the sensational nature of the thriller/horror genre to comment on society today. From woke culture to internet trolls to cancel culture (which wasn’t even a thing yet when this movie was made), all these are given satirical jabs. Not even the classic “Tortoise and the Hare” story is safe in this movie.
At its core, “The Hunt” is a sensationalized look at what happens when things are completely blown out of proportion. And the politics angle is a complete ruse within it.
Craig Zobel (“Z for Zachariah,” “The Leftovers”) directed “The Hunt,” which was written by “Watchman” creator Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse. Blumhouse Productions, the company behind “Get Out,” “The Purge” and “Paranormal Activity,” produced the film.
(Pluralist contributed to this report.)