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The Hunt (Blu-ray Review)

The Hunt appeared to by a normal Blumhouse release til it became a controversial one and delayed thanks to Tweets from a certain dolt running the country I live in. Nonetheless it just moved to a later time and then wound up hitting theatrical release the weekend before theaters closed up shop for the pandemic. It then wound up a headliner for the theatrical at home push for digital streaming while folks have been couped up. What a crazy history for this little Blumhouse thriller. Nonetheless, Its finally getting a Blu-ray release (Including a digital code) to bring a little relief in that its coming to the format with ease. While, I was sure it would come to physical media, part of me was curious if it would, due to a wonder if it was necessary with the at home push being so strong and appealing early on digitally. Alas, Blu-rays are still going pretty well and this one is out and available for you to purchase, so you can using the paid Amazon link below.

Film

Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are, or how they got there. They don’t know they’ve been chosen… for a very specific purpose … THE HUNT. In this subversive satire, a group of elites gather for the very first time at a remote Manor House to hunt ordinary Americans for sport. But the elites’ master plan is about to be derailed because one of The Hunted, Crystal (Betty Gilpin, GLOW), knows The Hunters’ game better than they do. She turns the tables on the killers, picking them off one by one as she makes her way toward the mysterious woman (two-time Oscar® winner Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby) at the center of it all.

The Hunt is admirable in its attempts to pull up a mirror on both extreme sides of the modern political battle, but mostly the film just wants to have a bloody good and violent time. Its exciting, funny and shares plenty of laughs. There is plenty to unpack and discuss well after the film ends and different people are going to see it very differently. With such a rapid and engaging pace coupled with a short runtime (without credits, its under 90 minutes), plenty of room is available to easily reach for it to see over and over again. The Hunt holds its place with some of the best, strong voiced, grindhouse violence exploitation flicks of the 1970s. And it does so in just being true to itself and imitating with just a visual filter to show age.

Sure, The Hunt is going to be seen as an eye opener for people who aren’t familiar with Betty Gilpin. She’s been around and doing great work in television for quite some time, currently one of the leads of Netflix best show, GLOW. Even saying that, she totally commands and owns the hell out of this movie. And its not just in some hammy, flashy, committed way. Gilpin is in full commitment for a little Blumhouse film, taking her character very seriously. She even adds little weird, oddball touches which make it so welcome and unique. When she’s killing people and in some other moments, Gilpin opts for some weird facial expressions and vocals instead of grunts. The end result and character are one for the ages, and I can see finding itself into a popular cosplay for horror conventions for years to come.

Gilpin leads a cast featuring a lot of cleverly done cameos base on short shooting schedule, but written and played to such a great effect that there are plenty of surprises and shocks along the way. The first act of the film has an interesting approach in that it almost feels like we are watching a bit of an anthology series based around the concept. Before we are really even introduced to our protagonist Crystal, the film plays as short little vignettes on the other “deploreables” in various settings and scenarios. Much of which feature some exciting fights, chases and brutal, gory deaths.

Giving more character to its “The Most Dangerous Game” riff, is the blunt infusion of the current hardcore United States political landscape. Its not subtle, its not colored in some sort of missed metaphor, it slaps you across the face and then clubs you over the head with it. While it feels like it could be a bit much and obvious as to be spitting on one type of people, it pulls the rug and rags on the reverse side of things. The goal is to wager the ridiculousness of 2 extremes, but both sides of that coin could watch the film and come away thinking it said something the other argues it didn’t. That’s sort of the beauty of it all, and people who honestly find themselves in an uncomfortable middle will probably find the most joy in the political analysis the film provides.

Blumhouse’s The Hunt is a perfect exploitation flick for our current times in America. Craig Zobel’s movie has a voice, plenty to say and reflect upon society while also bringing together some fun characters and ripping violence. If there is to be political a film for everyone right now, this is clearly it. At a face pace and a terrific turn from Betty Gilpin, the movie fires on all cylinders as one of the best B-movies in a long while and one for the ages. While a little cheapy and a film with some buzz now, we’ll hopefully look back on The Hunt with similar joy or just clear entertainment years down the road. Unless, you’re some kind of conspiracy theorist and think the film quite possibly is actually something going on or will be going on. In that case…you better be careful eating powdered doughnuts.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: The Hunt comes to Blu-ray and unfortunately not 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray. But, hey, this looks pretty solid. Overall, the image feels washed out in the more exterior open field scenes. Details are pretty strong. Some of the CGI blood looks a little too obvious here, especially a part where someone is shot in the back in the dark from a distance and it almost looks like someone mouse clicked on the spot where it hit. Aside from that, the image is sharp, clear and does have a good overall look that feels like it could be improved with the superior format.

Depth:  Depth of field is pretty solid. Spacing looks pretty good and feels quite grand in scale whether it be inside or outside. Foreground and background relations feel a nice pushback. Movements are natural and feature no motion distortions.

Black Levels:  Blacks are a little on the grayer side of things more than they are natural. Information is mostly kept intact, but there are some instances where things are a bit hidden more than you’d expect. The darkness does help to accentuate some colors. No crushing witnessed on this viewing, though its possible it could have been there in spots and I missed it (Taking notes, blinking, etc).

Color Reproduction:  Colors are pretty natural or lean on slightly washed out time to time. Rustic colors like browns come on pretty bold. There are some lights and such that give a good pop in the darkness and almost resonate in an HDR fashion.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features and textures like make-up strokes, stubble, sweat, dried blood, bruising and more come through very clearly in medium and close up shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Format(s): English .1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Descriptive Video Service, French 5.1 DTS Digital Surround, Spanish 5.1 DTS Digital Surround

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics:  The Hunt provides a pretty engaging and perfectly fine 7.1 track that really helps bring the feel of the action to your room. Its an open, free, spacious experience with some good mixing with valiant balance on the vocals, effects and score. When things amp up, it gets loud and provides good jumps and surprises. No real complaints abound aside from not having an Atmos or DTS:X track available. But that’s a bit of nit pick.

Height: N/A

Low-Frequency Extension:  Subwoofer gives a solid effort in pulsing on explosions, gunfire, engines, trains running, glass shattering and more with good range.

Surround Sound Presentation: There is a lot of this mix that primarily hangs out up from, but hits the sides and the back for some necessities but also helping in sound travel and unique contributions like bullets, footsteps, ricochet and the like. Solid ambiance throughout as well.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp, with a nice even keel throughout. Action sequences still have things quite easily audible and feeling naturally part of it. Diction is quite good.

Extras

The Hunt comes with the DVD edition and a Movies Anywhere digital code.

Crafting The Hunt (HD, 5:04) – Jason Blum, Director Craig Zobel, Damon Lindelof, Nick Cuse and cast including cast members Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank and Ike Barinholtz among others discuss the social middle ground the film aims for and going over the inspirations, characters and costuming.

Death Scene Breakdowns (HD, 2:36) – Subject sorta says it all here, but its a really quick, brief jaunt about it.

Athena VS. Crystal: Hunter or Hunted? (HD, 2:42) – Goes over the idea behind the fight scene on paper and the execution of the choreography on set, with footage.

Copy to a new draft

Summary

The Hunt is a hell of a fun time, with plenty to say even if its a bit heavy handed. A nice rorschach test of a film as different audience members are going to think the film is saying different things. Funny that its been playing in drive-in theaters with their resurgence as its PERFECT for that atmosphere. Universal’s Blu-ray has a terrific presentation, but has some pretty wimpy extras. However, at a nice $9.99-$14.99 price drop, pull the trigger and own The Hunt!

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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