An anonymous SmartPhone. A chat starts moaning about the “Idiot in Chief”, then moves on to talking about “The Deplorables”. Someone mentions that they’re looking forward to the Hunt of Deplorables that’s coming up. As others enthuse, a message appears that we’re not supposed to talk about the Hunt online. The group chat is closed down.
Pan out to the owner of the SmartPhone, a bloke in the front part of a private jet who is sniffy about the caviare and champagne and dismissive towards the stewardess. Someone breaks into the posh part of the plane, looking for a doctor. A doctor emerges who tries to render him unconscious. He carries on struggling until he’s skewered with a stiletto.
Cut to: a field where someone wakes up, wearing an intricate gag. In the middle of a field there is a big wooden box and a crowbar. More people emerge towards the box, but as one tries to open it, the others shy away. The box opens to reveal … a pig in a shirt. Further back there are various knifes and guns. As people start to arm themselves, they are strewed with gunfire.
The worst way to deal with The Hunt would be to waste any time thinking about its plausibility. Apparently, the Liberal élite has ganged together to round up a group of working-class Conservative rednecks so that they can hunt them down for fun. To do this, they have ganged up with some wholesome grandparents and a group of grammar Nazis barely out of University.
If you think that this doesn’t really make sense, well this is pretty much the point. We are not expected to believe that what takes place in The Hunt ever actually happened – when does this ever really happen in film? But it elegantly takes right-wing paranoid fantasy, and runs with it as if this sort of thing could actually happen.
The film is just as dismissive about rednecks as it is about the self righteous, entitled liberals. It hates the rich, hates the “Politically Correct”, even hates a nice pair of grandparents who would like to make the world a little better. You do get the feeling that somewhere behind the screenplay there’s some smug people who think that the world would be a much better place if it were run by them and their mates.
It would be wrong to defend the film on political terms. At best, it is nihilistic, self-righteously intimating that it is politically more sophisticated than its brainless protagonists. It certainly lends itself to a centrist reading which says that the problem is “extremists on both sides”, although the “extreme left” here are much more liberal than revolutionary.
The beauty of the film, though, is that something is always happening, and we never get the chance to think about the batshit craziness of it all. As soon as anything starts to feel a little implausible, then look – there’s a pig. Or a long drawn out retelling of the tortoise and the hare story, which is much more violent than the original. Or a grenade, which disembodies someone, whose torso is impaled on the nearest spike.
So, you can just revel in the cartoon violence, rush from one jumpshot to another, and enjoy a tight plot that just never lets up. In the pub afterwards we discussed whether it should have been a bit longer. To be honest, I think it was amazing that it held our attention for 90 minutes without our minds wandering to consider the implausibility of it all. I’m not sure it could have survived much longer.
The Hunt is good at what it does, but if you’re looking for anything else, its very limited. As a political satire, it’s dull and unconvincing, and as an astute comment on the State of the Nation, it is found somewhat wanting. And yet as a brainless Saturday night movie with a kick-ass female lead, its just what you need.
The Hunt will not – and should not – be on any Best of Year lists. But not all films should be good for you, some should be just fun. And The Hunt has fun in spades.