My 3.9 flight to Austin meant missing the Los Angeles all-media for The Hunt. I’ll post a review of this Craig Zobel-Damon Lindelof collaboration after catching it locally tomorrow night. Here’s a response from veteran movie guy and L.A. Times contributor Lewis Beale:

“I just saw this supposedly controversial movie. The main costars are Betty Gilpin and Hillary Swank. It’s basically a straight-to-video exploitation picture — very bloody — given a thin veneer of relevance with some political content. Featuring a bunch of TV actors and other folk — Sturgill Simpson as a rapper! — who obviously did it for the paycheck (a small one, since most are onscreen for only a short period before they’re knocked off).

“It’s about how a bad joke on the part of some wokester liberals about killing Trumpsters metastasizes into a ‘thing’ with deplorable conspiracy types. This forces the liberals to act on their joke and hunt the rightwingers a la The Most Dangerous Game.

“I found it watchable but nothing more, aided in no small part by a 90-minute running time. It portrays both sides of the political equation as jerks, but any controversial content is basically non-existent. The reviews will most likely be brutal.”

From Peter Debruge’s Variety review:

“A gory, hard-R exploitation movie masquerading as political satire, one that takes unseemly delight in dispatching yahoos on both ends of the spectrum via shotgun, crossbow, hand grenade and all manner of hastily improvised weapons.

“The words ‘trigger warning’ may not have been invented with The Hunt in mind, but they’ve seldom seemed more apt in describing a film that stops just shy of fomenting civil war as it pits Left against Right, Blue (bloods) against Red (necks) in a bloody battle royale that reduces both sides to ridiculous caricatures.

“As the umpteenth variation on Richard Connell’s ‘The Most Dangerous Game,’ The Hunt is [nonetheless] one of the most effective executions yet (it surpasses the Cannes-laureled Bacarau, but drags along too much baggage to best last year’s Ready or Not).

“Regardless of one’s personal political affiliations, it’s hard not to root for the victims here, and one quickly distinguishes herself from the pack of Deliverance-style caricatures: Crystal May Creesy (Gilpin), a MacGyver-skilled veteran who served in Afghanistan and whose distrust of any and everyone makes her uniquely suited for a final showdown with Athena.

“After all the buildup, that scene inevitably disappoints in its attempt to explain its own mythology, though the well-matched womano à womano confrontation between Gilpin and Swank is well worth the price of admission.

“Culturally, it does no one any good to stoke discord between two already contentious parties, but when the conflict reduces to one-on-one — and The Hunt stops pretending to be a parable about modern politics — it’s easy to appreciate the efficient 90-minute horror-fantasy for what it is: not a model for violent behavior in the real world, but an extreme outlet for pent-up frustrations on both sides.”