The first reactions to director Craig Zobel's somewhat controversial, politically charged thriller The Hunt are now in and, perhaps unsurprisingly given the movie's content, there is some division amongst critics, though they do not all fall along political lines. While The Hunt is seemingly about liberal "elites" hunting down conservatives, the trailers have alluded to the fact that not everything is exactly as it seems. The creative team behind the movie have stated that The Hunt does not pick a political side, instead deciding to skewer both, and this is something that, predictably, worked for some and not others.
We begin with CinemaBlend's Eric Eisenberg, who thoroughly enjoyed The Hunt and the decision to not play favorites.
"[N]ot only is the film a smart, even-handed satire that plays no favorites when poking fun, the way that the narrative surrounding the release ultimately lines up with one of the core messages of the story is so deeply ironic that it is essentially meta."
USA Today echo these feelings towards the movie's ability to play both sides of the political divide and praises The Hunt for being a highly entertaining action movie with an excellent female protagonist in the form of Betty Gilpin.
"It will also tick off those with a thin skin and without an open mind. But if rooting for an awesome female buttkicker with a Southern accent can unite us for the better part of an hour and a half, then we might not be a lost cause after all."
The brilliance of Betty Gilpin is shared by Collider's review, however they also felt that although the movie does well at not picking a side it does not have very much to say, ultimately coming across as rather shallow in its approach.
"Despite a great lead performance from Betty Gilpin, The Hunt looks at our political moment and thinks we're all being ridiculous without offering anything of substance as an alternative."
This lack of substance was also felt by The Hollywood Reporter, who, though finding the movie to be quite engaging as a guilty pleasure, The Hunt sadly falls a little flat, with the issues becoming too much for such a simple movie to handle properly.
"If these issues seem a bit too weighty to be resolved by a knock-down, drag-out fight between two women in a hi-tech mansion, it's also true that, toward the end, the filmmakers' attitude becomes overly glib and pranky; there's a notably serious gap between the gravity of the subject and the horror/action manner in which it's presented."
Similarly, Empire also felt that The Hunt fails to be as smart a movie as it thinks it is, and that this detracts from the movie being a perfectly serviceable action-thriller distraction.
"But if any on-screen crime is committed, it's one of being both glib and boring, weighing down a perfectly trashy concept with half-smart, self-satisfied zingers."
So, a slightly mixed bag. But, if you're looking for a somewhat intriguing action movie with a horror bent then it sounds like The Hunt is for you. Just bear in mind that whatever your political leaning, the movie is going to take aim at you as well as everyone else. The Hunt comes from Universal Pictures.