If you’ve seen a different trailer recently, that seems to remind you of an awful lot of the American Hunt concept. You’re not wrong. The Hunt, starring Hilary Swank, was scheduled for release this fall but has been shelved in the wake of so many school shootings this year (and last year, and the year before that).
There was also some controversy around who was doing the hunting in The Hunt: wealthy elite would pay large sums of money to hunt people pulled from the redneck, alt-white anti-culture (ones who do talk like Ruffalo in Dark Waters). The trailer implies that the film starts as a revenge fantasy against the alt-right for electing Trump. It looks like a fun movie. However, the “noble savage” country folk are set as the protagonists, which makes the idea less interesting. We may never know.
The press for American Hunt claims it is “the most controversial horror release of 2019.” If so, that’s only true because The Hunt was not released. Should we recoil in disgust that filmmakers would seek to cash in on tragedies, particularly when another production company declines to release a similar film out of respect for victims and families of mass shootings? That’s an initial knee-jerk reaction. Thinking it through, however, it’s clear that American Hunt is not going to inspire school shootings or any other kind of violence. It’s a movie. The marketing decision to release this film is in bad taste, but in 2019 bad taste sells. In fact, there’s been a market for schlocky distasteful material since the beginning of the film. Opportunistic, yes, but not particularly irresponsible.
“…it is entertaining and ends with a satisfying twist.”
What American Hunt does reflect is that we live in a coarse society in a time when empathy is in short supply. Art documents culture. We are accustomed to watching people get hurt on our screens every day. Seen from that point of view, American Hunt makes perfect sense. It’s meant to shock and horrify, and perhaps this will be cathartic. It’s bloody and violent, but If you’ve seen an episode of Dexter, you’ve seen worse.
There are challenging “suspension of disbelief” moments to note. A shower of sparks erupts when a character pokes an electric fence with a wooden stick, even though wood does not conduct electricity. Also, there are points where someone is shot at close range with a shotgun and continues walking and talking. Realistic physics failed to show up on set.
Ultimately, while the film seems like a knock-off of The Hunt cobbled together in a hurry with little budget, it is entertaining and ends with a satisfying twist. Fans of low budget gory horror will have a great time with American Hunt.
"…the delights and downfalls of hunting the most dangerous prey: The American Millenial"