With the coronavirus ‘lockdown’ in place movie distributors have made history by launching films on an ‘early access’ Premium Video on Demand service – via the likes of Amazon and Sky – after only being released at the cinema in the past few weeks.
While the price is a little heftier than usual – about the cost of a ticket and a half at £15.99 to try and recoup some of that cinematic lost revenue – one film that didn’t have time to flourish at the cinema was this noteworthy satirical action-thriller that sees the ‘elite’ hunt human ‘reprobates’ for sport.
But while it might not be as clever as it thinks it is, there are enough smart twists and turns – with a plentiful supply of ‘firmly-embedded-in-cheek’ humour – that makes this a little bit different.
And there’s a great lead performance from Betty Gilpin, who has already shined on Netflix’s wrestling-based TV series Glow.
But if you’re expecting a paint-by-numbers actioner solely based on humans hunting humans – like the Steve Austin-led The Condemned or Ice T-headlining Surviving the Game – then you may be a tad disappointed.
This is not an adult version of The Hunger Games that some may crave – as this is just a backdrop to the social commentary it’s trying to portray.
When twelve strangers – including Gilpin, Bad Neighbours’ star Ike Barinholtz and We’re the Millers actress Emma Roberts – wake up on the outskirts of a forest, they don’t know why they are there, or that they’ve been chosen for a specific purpose, known as The Hunt.
This is an event that has been organised by a group of ‘snobby’ rich people – led by Oscar-winner Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby) – to have fun ‘taking out’ people ‘beneath them’ that have battled ‘the system’.
But they don’t realise they have ex-military in their midst in the form of Gilpin’s Afghanistan-serving Crystal Creasey, and when mayhem takes centre stage over politics – this was originally delayed from release last year in the wake of the El Paso supermarket shootings in America – it never really takes itself too seriously.
And for a night in isolation, hunting this down for quick-fire bloody entertainment with a satirical twist isn’t a bad move – as this will take the worry of the coronavirus out of your cross hairs for at least ninety minutes.
ESP Rating: 3.5/5
Cast: Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, Ike Barinholtz, Wayne Duvall, Ethan Suplee, Sturgill Simpson, Amy Madigan, Reed Birney & Emma Roberts
Running Time: 1 Hr 30 Mins
Director: Craig Zobel