In Depth

Why The Hunt is so controversial

Violent satire film has offended US president and many critics

Gory politicial satire The Hunt has been savaged by critics including Donald Trump ahead of the film’s US release on Friday.

The movie - which hit UK cinemas on Wednesday - focuses on a group of liberal “elites”, played by actors including Hilary Swank, who hunt down conservative “deplorables”, including Glow’s Betty Gilpin, for sport.

The controversial flick was supposed to come out last September, but the release was postponed by Universal Pictures weeks earlier following two mass shootings in the US. 

President Trump criticised the film at the time, accusing the makers of promoting “Anger and Hate”.

Without directly naming The Hunt, he tweeted that “the movie coming out is made in order to inflame and cause chaos”.

“Liberal Hollywood” create “their own violence, and then try to blame others”, he added. “They are the true Racists, and are very bad for our Country!”

The film follows a dozen strangers who are drugged, kidnapped, and dropped off in remote woodland, along with a crate full of weapons and a dressed-up piglet.  

According to the Financial Times, the “deadly weapons” include “crossbows, stiletto heels, an estate car, a kitchen blowtorch of the kind used for finishing creme brulee, assorted booby traps and a Second Amendment fantasia of semi-automatic firearms”.

The disorientated strangers are then hunted by a group of coastal elites, one of whom boasts of “slaughtering a dozen deplorables”. 

Fox News claims the film “glamorises the killing of Trump supporters” and that the underlying message is that “you should kill your political adversaries”.

But other critics have accused the movie of being all hype and no substance.

Time magazine says the premise is “less provocative” than its writers might believe, while The Independent argues: “No one could possibly be offended by The Hunt, because that would require it to contain at least one comprehensible idea.”

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“Is it really as provocative as it sounds?” asks Slate. “The short answer, unsurprisingly, is no.”

The Guardian agrees, saying that that if you “set aside the noise, you’re left with a boilerplate B-movie that doesn’t say nearly as much as it thinks it does”.

So could Trump have less to fear from The Hunt than might appear to be the case - and possibly even find the film entertaining if he gives it a chance?

“I think the president might like the movie,” director Craig Zobel told The Guardian’s Benjamin Lee. “I’m proud of the action scenes in the movie. If he wants to just watch the action scenes, I’m fine with that.”

Speaking to USA Today, Zobel denied that his latest big-screen release is specifically anti-Trump.

“I consider it an anti-everybody movie,” he said. “The goal is to try to poke fun at everybody that we could think of.”

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