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CINEMA: The MAGA Hunters

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THE HUNT (Directed by Craig Zobel, 89 minutes, USA, 2020)

Dan Tabor_byline_avatarBY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC The Hunt is a guns-blazing riff on the classic humans-hunting-humans short story The Most Dangerous Game, with a very relevant Age of MAGA twist. The plot revolves around a Pizza Gate-style conspiracy called “Manor Gate” — an email chain conspiracy theory about a farm where a group of liberal elites hunt Trumpers after giving them a weapon and a head start into the woods. While the film is careful not to invoke Trump’s name in the film, it’s pretty clear who these right-wing folks voted for in 2016. The twist here is our protagonist is one of these unfortunate MAGA-loids kidnapped by the Libs — an Ivanka-esque blonde named Crystal (Betty Gilpin) — whom the audience winds up rooting for as she takes out captors one by one. The film is less a biting political satire and more a chance to get a good laugh in at both sides of the coin. Given that Damon Lindelof, one of the writers of Lost, co-wrote the script, there is even a few unexpected layers of story that I honestly didn’t expect, further deconstructing the capacity for toxic Internet myths wreak IRL violence and havoc when swallowed wholesale by the gullible and the heavily armed.

After being “cancelled” last year thanks to a tweet from Donald Trump, Blumhouse is finally releasing The Hunt, to capitalize on the film’s controversial premise before the Deplorables become yet another of those purposely forgotten chapters in American history. Like a basement dwelling fanboy crying about the latest Star Wars trailer, Trump notoriously tweeted that The Hunt is made by “racist” “Liberal Hollywood…to inflame and cause chaos” and “violence.” The problem with the president’s tweet is that, like always, he didn’t let not knowing what he’s talking about stop him from doing so. Nevertheless, the studio caved in the face of the ensuing right wing cancel campaign and shelved the film. Until now.

Producer Jason Blum delivers an old-school Corman-eque dose of over-the-top gore and low-rent exploitation that is too cartoonish to take seriously. Though some have tried, with the Fox News choir weaponizing the film in their war on Liberal Hollywood, the truth is “The Hunt” is a coy takedown of both the left and the right. I found it oddly refreshing that the film absolutely held nothing sacred as it went for the jugular for almost every joke and stereotype, both for the right and left, which is the only way to do good comedy. Given the volatile political/social climate we currently inhabit, watching both sides literally blow each other up for 90 minutes is exactly what I need to get through the day. Definitely not for the squeamish or snowflakes from either side of the partisan divide, The Hunt is a hilarious, blood-soaked rampage through the culture wars that will, believe it or not, leave you a bit more sympathetic to those that may not share your political leanings.

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