• The Hunt (Universal Studios) Blu-ray Review



    Released by: Universal Studios
    Released on: June 9th, 2020.
    Director: Craig Zobel
    Cast: Ike Barinholtz, Betty Gilpin, Emma Roberts, Hilary Swank, Sturgill Simpson, Amy Madigan, Reed Birney, Ethan Suplee, Wayne Duvall
    Year: 2020
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    The Hunt – Movie Review:

    Craig Zobel’s The Hunt opens with a scene where a group of friends communicate via group text about the current actions of the President, concluding with a comment noting that "At least the hunt is coming up. Nothing better than going out to The Manor and slaughtering a dozen deplorables." From here we cut to a plane that we learn is owned by a wealthy woman named Athena (Hilary Swank). A few obnoxious types converse about champagne and caviar and then a man best described as a redneck emerges from the back cabin, woken out of his daze. He’s quickly killed.

    From here, we cut to a large field. Eleven people, men and women alike, converge around a large box which, when opened, produces a pig in a dress and then a cache of weapons. When they grab the weapons, they’re immediately fired upon by a bunker up the hill. A firefight breaks out – a woman is killed in a pit full of spikes, a man is blown up by a land mine. A few make a break towards a fence, and one of them is killed by someone, out of frame, with a bow and arrow. Two - a woman named Crystal (Betty Gilpin) and an older, larger man named Don (Wayne Duvall) – manage to make it out and after meeting up at a mom and pop convenience store that is not as it seems, team up to try and make sense out of all of this and figure out how to survive.

    The subject of quite a bit of controversy last year when it was supposed to debut in theaters (President Trump famously tweeted about it but didn’t use the movie’s name, leading some to suspect he was tweeting about Cats?), The Hunt isn’t nearly the ‘kill the deplorables’ fantasy that some on the right would make it out to be, and in fact, the movie pokes just as much, if not more, fun at the ‘liberal elites’ that are behind the hunt in the first place as it does the far right crowd. The hunters are self-absorbed, more concerned about political correctness than the things around them that clearly matter – you could rightly say that they’ve got their heads up their own asses. Most of the hunted are stereotypes the same way that the liberal characters are, some ranting about crisis actors and conspiracy theories, one clearly holding a sign at a protest that reads ‘STOP BEING GAY.’ Everything here, in terms of the characters, is exaggerated for comedic effect, making the film a pretty entertaining and surprisingly balanced satire as much as it is an action/horror picture. Interestingly enough, we never really learn the political leanings of the lead, Crystal. She simply finds herself in this situation and, once she learns what is happening, lets her survival instinct kick in, making so much of the controversy that erupted over the film much ado about nothing.

    That said, does it entertain? Absolutely. It’s very fast-paced and frequently quite funny, regardless of which way your own personal politics lie, so long as you’re willing to laugh at the absurdity of it all. The over the top stereotypes and cartoonish violence work together really well and the whole thing winds up being a lot of… fun. Really, this is pretty fun. It doesn’t hurt that Betty Gilpin gives a really strong performance here. She handles herself really well in the fight scenes and is quite believable here, moving well and hitting hard. She’s also got pretty solid comedic timing too, which comes in handy in a few scenes. Hillary Swank is well cast as her foil, and supporting work from Wayne Duvall, Ethan Suplee, country musician Sturgill Simpson, Amy Madigan, Reed Birney and quite a few other bit part players is also quite good.

    The Hunt – Blu-ray Review:

    Universal brings The Hunt to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen and taking up just over 24GBs of space on the 50GB disc. Shot digitally, there’s obviously no print damage, grain or dirt here to note, the image is pristine. Aside from some slight banding in a few spots, there’s nothing to complain about here. Colors look excellent, black levels are nice and deep and skin tones look great. Detail is very strong throughout and there’s very good depth and texture to the image.

    The main audio option on the disc is a DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio track in English and it’s a good one, offering some pretty aggressive surround usage during the action scenes, particularly that last fight. The score sounds great (Bobbie Gentry in lossless!) and has plenty of depth to it, while the dialogue stays clean and clear from start to finish. Sound effects, gun shots in particular, pack a nice punch and as you’d expect for a movie as recent as this, there are no issues with any hiss or distortion worth complaining about. DTS 5.1 Surround Sound tracks are also provided in Spanish and French and subtitles are offered in English, French and Spanish.

    Extras are limited to three brief featurettes, the first of which is
    Crafting The Hunt. This is a five-minute piece made up of cast and crew interviews that discusses the politics of the film as well as the humor and horror that it involves, noting that it's a 'roast of both sides' and a commentary on 'what the political moment is.' They also acknowledge the Orwellian references, the costuming, some of the small details of the characters of Crystal and Athena and more. In addition to the interviews there's some behind the scenes footage as well.


    Death Scenes Breakdown is a three-minute quickie that features cast and crew members discussing the violence and killing in the film, the effects work in the picture, how things were done with an intentionally cartoonish vibe and more. Again, there's some interesting behind the scenes footage here alongside the interview clips.

    Athena Vs. Crystal: Hunter Or Hunted? is a three-minute bit that looks at the complexity of the fight scene that finishes off the movie, noting what the two actresses had to go through, what was involved in choreographing and directing the scene and the training and preparation that went into getting the scene in the can. Once again, we get some nice behind the scenes footage in addition to the interview clips.

    The Blu-ray comes bundled with a DVD disc as well as an insert for a digital HD download version. This release also comes packaged with a slipcover.

    The Hunt – The Final Word:

    The Hunt is a very entertaining mix of action, horror, black comedy and social satire, poking holes at both sides of the political divide in America and offering plenty of thrills and chills at the same time – just don’t get all worked up about it or take it too seriously, because this was clearly meant to be funny, and it is. The cast is solid and the violence impressive and over the top. Universal’s Blu-ray is light on extras (this was really crying out for a commentary or proper documentary) but it looks and sounds great. Recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized The Hunt Blu-ray screen caps!









































    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Andrew Monroe's Avatar
      Andrew Monroe -
      I'll be watching this over the weekend, sounds like there's at least a bit of PURGE influence.