In a world much like our own, twelve individuals awaken in a field with no memory of how they got there or why they were taken there in the first place. They soon discover a large wooden crate full of weapons—at which point hunters begin shooting at them with guns, bows, and even grenades. Those who survive the initial massacre are forced to flee, and as they run they discover the truth of their predicament: the hunters are a group of ruthless liberal elites who, fed up with "deplorable" conservatives, have decided to kill a bunch of them for sport.
Unfortunately for them, one of the hunted is Crystal (Betty Gilpin), a veteran who proves substantially more capable of surviving and fighting back than any of them had anticipated.
The Hunt was originally scheduled for a 2019 release, but was temporarily canceled following multiple real-life shootings and protests from former President Donald Trump. It was finally released on March 13, 2020, but due to poor ticket sales stemming from the then-nascent COVID-19 outbreak, Universal opted to release it online for streaming on March 20, 2020.
Not to be confused with 2012's The Hunt.
This film contains examples of:
- Ambiguous Situation:
- The creators say they were deliberately ambiguous on whether the hunters made a mistake with kidnapping Crystal, and the fact that you even have to ask the question is what's important and destroys their claim to the moral high ground.
- It's also unclear whether Don was a plant, or if Athena was pretending he was to get him killed. Athena refuses to answer.
- Action Girl: Crystal is very badass. Not only is she an Afghan war veteran, but she's also very observant and clever.
- Armour-Piercing Question: Crystal asks Liberty if she believes she should be given mercy just because she's a woman, the woman becomes visibly conflicted between holding up her ideals and her desire not to get shot in the face before saying no.
- Asshole Victim:
- Deconstructed in-universe as this is the liberal hunters' justification. The fear and humanization of the victims make them come off as the psychopaths they are.
- Many of the victims of the hunt are themselves revealed to be pretty unsympathetic. Gary spouts bigoted statements and brags about his conspiracy theory podcast. "Big Game" Shane hunts endangered animals. Big Red is a member of an expy of the homophobic Westboro Baptist Church. Bandana Man participated in the tiki torch march of neo-Nazis at the Unite the Right rally.
- At Least I Admit It: Unlike the other hunters, who claim they want to make a point to the hunted about why they are being killed, Richard just wants to kill them as soon as possible. He also pokes fun at the other liberals for their hypocritical "wokeness".
- Big Bad: Athena orchestrated the whole game and she is the final enemy faced by Crystal.
- Bad Omen Anecdote: At one point Crystal tells Don a variation of "The Tortoise and the Hare" that starts off as normal (the tortoise wins because Slow and Steady Wins the Race and the hare freaks out at his loss and yells that "the hare always wins!") but turns for the horrifying when the hare arrives to the tortoise's house that very night and kills the tortoise and his whole family (even forcing the tortoise to see his family die first), because "the hare always wins". Don is notably creeped out afterwards, both by the tale and the way Crystal narrated it in a nonchalant fashion.
- Black-and-Grey Morality: The liberals here are hypocrites who are so holier-than-thou that they hunt down and murder people they disagree with. However, the kidnapped conservatives are not very sympathetic either, as most are revealed to be hateful, xenophobic idiots. Only Yoga Pants really escapes this, and it's only because we don't get to know anything about her.
- Black-and-White Insanity: The liberals believe the victims' conservative views and Conspiracy Theorist attitudes justify them being murdered.
- Blond Republican Sex Kitten: This is apparently who Yoga Pants was. She's a young, attractive blonde woman who was photographed wearing a smart business suit outside the capitol with a man who looks like a politician.
- Bookends: The film's prologue and epilogue both happen within the plane transporting the hunters and hunted, and both scenes expose the focused characters' Nice to the Waiter attitude (the hunters, for all of their alleged political correctness, don't care about the help, while Crystal is very nice to the flight attendant and even invites her to drink some champagne).
- Bourgeois Bohemian: All of the villains are rich liberal elites who murder conservatives while being very careful to avoid insensitive language.
- Cloth Fu: During their climactic battle, Crystal grabs a cloth from the back of the couch and uses it to block Athena's knife.
- Create Your Own Villain: Being accused of hunting people for sport as a result of a joke text inspired some liberal elites to actually do it... with their accusers.
- Dead Star Walking: Emma Roberts’s character is shot in the head immediately after the titular Hunt begins, and Justin Hartley’s character steps on a mine almost immediately after.
- Decoy Protagonist: The film plays with this once the hunt itself starts, introducing a handful of victims one-by-one as if they might be a major character in the story, before killing each one off in swift, brutal fashion. It's not until 25 minutes in that the film's actual protagonist, Crystal, takes center stage.
- Determinator: Crystal is not going to let ANYTHING stop her from surviving the Hunt and she doesn't care what (or who) she has to tear through to do so. Don't get in her way.
- Also, Athena, whose idea the whole thing is in the first place and will not tolerate either her "friends" or her enemies trying to stop it. The final showdown with Crystal is a Determinator on Determinator Blood Match.
- Disproportionate Retribution: In response to some Internet trolls accusing them of hunting people, a group of liberals decide to capture and hunt the people who made those accusations.
- Dramatic Drop: Shocked upon seeing a dazed stowaway (Randy) suddenly bursting into first-class, Flight Attendant Kelly overfills Richard's champagne glass and drops the bottle altogether. The dropped champagne bottle allowed Randy to defend himself from his captors briefly until Athena does him in.
- Dramatically Missing the Point: The hunters attempt to make their hunt a long-running homage to Animal Farm, complete with a pig and nicknaming the hunting targets after the animals in them. They seem to utterly miss that it's a story about leftist revolutionaries becoming as bad as the people who they revolted against. Nor does Athena seem to realize that Crystal isn't who she should dub "Snowball" after the Trotsky character in the story. Crystal notes that going by what Athena believes, she should give that to herself as a nickname.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Dead Sexy doesn't get to do much in the film, but she sure dies like a badass. After having her legs blown off by a mine that killed the person who saved her and ended up impaled on spikes for the second time in a minute, she tells Staten Island to Mercy Kill her. When he's too squeamish to do it, she irritably snatches his gun from him with a snarled "Let go of it, you snowflake!" and blows her own brains out.
- Eagle-Eye Detection: Crystal's surprisingly good at this. The most notable example is when she figures out that the gas station attendants are in on the hunt after one charges her too much for a pack of smokes.
- Establishing Character Moment:
- Crystal is introduced fashioning a makeshift compass and going her own way, establishing her as a resourceful individualist.
- Subverted by Yoga Pants, who is the one to find the keys to the gags in everyone's mouths, which seems to establish her as an observant person worthy of being the main character, but she's a Decoy Protagonist.
- The first scene is a collective one for the villains. One of them subjects the stewardess to some passive-aggressive bullying and they muck up their attempts to restrain one of the prisoners who has woken up ahead of time, after which a woman whose face is not shown walks in and dispatches the prisoner with brutal efficiency. It shows that the villains are snooty hypocrites, and that most of them are not very competent but that their faceless leader very much is.
- Evil Versus Evil: This is essentially a bunch of entitled Hollywood liberal "elites" vs. a conspiracy group that has been posting the idea that selfsame liberals were hunting humans. A Downplayed Trope example as while the victims may have ruined a number of people's careers with their Conspiracy Theory, they are in no way deserving of death.
- Expy: The victims of the hunting group are a stand-in for Qanon. Except instead of a pedophile ring, they are people who made up the theory that a bunch of liberal elites are hunting people for sport.
- Eye Scream: Athena kills Randy by driving her stiletto heel through his eye.
- Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: Definitely in the commentary here. The liberals, even before they stoop to outright kidnapping and murder, clearly think anyone who disagrees with their politics is ignorant scum whose lives are irrelevant, and they constantly phrase things as if they’re really the victims here in the same manner, say, a textbook abuser would, acting like the frightened people they’re hunting are really the ones at fault.
- After killing Staten Island, Vanilla Nice and Big Red, Ma drag their bodies into the store-room, noticing as she does that Staten Island is wearing a wedding ring. She laments about not realizing that he was married to Pop, who brushes it off. This foreshadows how the hunters only did the bare minimum of research into their targets, thus establishing how they were able to kidnap the wrong Crystal.
- Supporting this evidence, the hunters were picking out the victims based on their social media accounts and profile pictures so when we get to Crystal's (JusticeForYall), she is seated behind a cash register while someone taking the photo offscreen flips her off. Now it wouldn't make sense why Crystal would post this photo until you realize the person behind the camera is the true JusticeForYall, showing her displeasure towards Crystal on social media for some reason. We find out moments later that is the case.
- Midway through the film, Crystal tells the story of "The Box Turtle and the Jack Rabbit" to Don where the Jack Rabbit "wins" the race by breaking into the Box Turtle's house, stabbing him to death (Right after brutally massacring his family while the turtle is forced to watch) and eating his food since he got peckish. The story draws parallels to the final showdown between Crystal (The Jack Rabbit) and Athena (The Box Turtle) as the former goes to the latter's manor (Or rather "second home"), fatally stabs her after finishing off the rest of the hunters and eat the grilled cheese sandwich Athena made before the fight. Athena's role as the Box Turtle was even alluded to in the opening scene as one of the messages in that fateful group chat was a tortoise GIF.
- Grievous Bottley Harm: After being stabbed in the throat, Randy grabs the champagne bottle and hits Ted in the head with it. He then smashes the bottle and attempts to eviscerate Richard.
- Hate Sink: Characters on each side of the political spectrum are made into straw characters whom the audience is expected to hate. The liberal hunters gleefully murder people while congratulating themselves on how morally superior they are to their victims. Most of the conservatives are revealed to do some pretty repulsive things in their personal lives and can't let a life-threatening situation stop them from spouting bigoted beliefs at every turn.
- Heel Realization: Athena goes through one of these as not only did she get the wrong Crystal but she's also become exactly the kind of monster she was accused of being. Oh, and Crystal explains an Animal Farm reference that shows she's cultured as well as literate—illustrating her classicism was wrong too.
- Hollywood Atheist: One of the hunters, noting after his victim says he'll go to Hell that he, being one of the "godless elites" doesn't believe in such a place, before killing him.
- Humans Are Bastards: Basically the central theme of the movie. Everyone, liberal or conservative, is depicted as hateful, sadistic, and/or hypocritical.
- Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: The premise of the movie revolves around liberal Americans hunting "deplorables" for sport.
- When Staten Island reveals he owns several guns at home, the female gas station owner compares his right to own a firearm to the right of the people hunting him to own one. She fails to register a distinction between a right to self-defense and a right to hunt other people for sport and clearly conflates the two concepts.
- The liberal hunters dismiss their quarry as a bunch of racist rednecks. One of them comes up with the idea to pass himself off as a Muslim refugee when he is really a wealthy American man from Connecticut, which one could very much argue (certainly by their own standards) is racist. They actually lampshade it, but otherwise don't object to it.
- The conversation that some of the liberal hunters have in the bunker strongly suggests that they aren't any less prejudiced or bigoted towards minorities or gays. They're just practiced at concealing it under a surface observance of political correctness. The liberal hunters and conservative quarries together do indeed end up looking like Mirroring Factions. The line of conversation about Haiti in particular betrays beliefs that it's squarely up to rich white liberals to save underprivileged minorities from themselves as those minorities lack any capacity to deal with their own problems. The liberal hunters are definitely feeling the White Man's Burden.
- They pick Gary for the hunt partially because he runs a racist blog where he apparently blames immigrants for all of America’s problems. The fact that they blame the people they’re kidnapping for all of their problems (which are really their own fault) goes over their heads entirely.
- Insane Troll Logic: Invoked if anything. All of the characters who attempt to explain any sort of political position they back lapses into this. Gary acts like a bunch of Muslim refugees are really actors, although it ends up, one of them ended up being a plant by Athena as part of the plan to get them killed but the soldier raid ruins this. Athena visibly has to do some mental gymnastics to try to defend her actions at the end. Even the gas station owners make a fallacious point about gun ownership, which falls apart in the face of a guy who has just been kidnapped and is actively being hunted down.
- Insistent Terminology: Athena hates when people call either of her second homes "manors."
- It Works Better with Bullets: Subverted in this case. One of the hunters manages to yank the magazine out of an assault rifle he and Crystal fighting over, thinking that she can't shoot him now. Crystal merely checks the chamber for a bullet, sees there is, and raises an eyebrow. The hunter only has a second to realize his mistake before Crystal shoots him directly in the chest.
- Life Imitates Art: In-Universe - "The Hunt" was a tasteless joke made among friends but when the chat was leaked and various conspiracy blogs jumped on it thinking it was real, Athena and her friends decided to bring it to life so they could get their revenge for being fired from their jobs.
- Lower-Class Lout: Athena exploits this trope near the end of the film to try and tear down Crystal with a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, bringing up Crystal dropping out of school at twelve years old because her father was killed in a raid on his meth lab and her mother overdosed soon after, and Crystal relied on welfare and bounced from job to job, and brings up spelling mistakes in her "incriminating" tweet about Athena. Subverted when it turns out Athena researched the wrong Crystal. Crystal even corrects Athena's use of Animal Farm for a reference, showing she's well-read.
- Ludicrous Gibs: Happens quite a few times, with the landmine booby trap providing one particularly memorable example.
- Meaningful Name: Granted that most of the people, specifically the victims, were never given actual names but it still fits the trope.
- Yoga Pants and Dead Sexy were credited as such because of the former wearing yoga pants to the hunt while the latter had a t-shirt sporting the same words which also reflects how she was killed in the most gruesome death possible.
- Target was shot with multiple arrows in his Last Stand.
- Big Red is a redhead and turned red in the face after the potassium-cyanide in the powdered donut she was eating kicks in.
- Staten Island is named after where he lives.
- Men Are the Expendable Gender: Defied when Don doesn't want to execute a female hunter.Don: She's a woman!Crystal: Hey miss, do you think you should be afforded mercy just because you're a girl?Liberty: ...no?Crystal shoots her
- Mistaken Identity: It turns out Crystal.wasn't one of the "deplorables" that the liberals wanted to target. They captured her by accident when they were hunting for someone with a similar name and social media profile as her. Crystal herself comments that she gets the other woman's mail all the time.
- Moral Myopia: The liberal elites think of their victims as subhuman and deserving to die because of their internet comments.
- Nice to the Waiter: Mixed with a Call-Back, when Crystal finally kills Athena and is about to fly out, she is pointedly nice to the stewardess, contrasting with the hunter on the plain who was snooty, and offers to share caviar and the special 1907 champagne with her since she hadn't actually ever eaten any before.
- No Name Given: The first Decoy Protagonist is killed before she can even give her name, being billed as "Yoga Pants." Similarly, all the hunt victims, except Crystal, Don, Gary and Randy, are credited as "Dead Sexy", "Staten Island", "Trucker", "Target", "Big Red" and "Vanilla Nice".
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Had the liberal hunters bothered to do their research properly, they probably would have nabbed the real Crystal. Then they would likely have wiped out the conservatives in a single day and without a single casualty, leaving them free to continue their hunting game 12 captives at a time. Getting the wrong Crystal, who happens to be a totally badass Action Girl with military experience and a sharp eye for detail, completely throws a wrench into their plans that proves fatal for all of them. Only Athena the Big Bad puts up any real fight against Crystal.
- Only Sane Woman: Crystal. She obviously hates her liberal captors and kills them all, but she doesn't seem to approve of the hateful actions of her conservative compatriots either; in fact, she calls out Gary on his bigotry towards immigrants and later saves a mother and a child from him.
- The Pen Is Mightier: On the plane, Ted stabs Randy in the throat with a pen he borrows from the stewardess. After the carnage is over, he hands the pen back to her.
- Pipe Pain: Crystal uses a steel pipe she rips from the ceiling to pummel Captain Dale.
- Politically Correct Villain: The hunters are very sensitive to politically incorrect language, while at the same time cheerfully killing people. Unusually, they are also very prone to slipping up and engaging in such language anyway, causing their peers to complain about it - it's like they're trying to be this trope but not being very good at it.
- The Power of Apathy: The movie ends up as a tribute in support of it, essentially. Crystal was kidnapped by mistake, but the film goes out of its way to show that she has no political affiliation. She loathes her liberal captors and wants them dead (understandable, after what they did to her), but she doesn't follow politics or seem to have any strong beliefs about it, and is explicitly shown disagreeing with the conservative views of her fellow captives. Essentially, in a satirical war of liberals vs. conservatives, the indifferent bystander comes out on top.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Crystal gets one in just before she takes out Ma, which also establishes her intelligence and Eagle-Eye Detection abilities.Crystal: Cigarettes in Arkansas only cost six bucks, YOU FUCKED UP, BITCH!!
- Punch-Clock Villain: Sgt. Dale, the weapons consultant who trained all of the hunters in gun usage, seems to be this, with no real stake in the hunt beyond owing Athena a favor. He even expresses regret to Crystal about agreeing to be there at all, not that it helps him much.
- To a lesser extent, the pilot and stewardess. Presumably they were being blackmailed into cooperating given the stewardess was a witness to the first murder of the movie, and neither was especially interested in fighting Crystal once it was clear Athena and the other hunters were defeated.
- Rasputinian Death: One of the first women captured (credited as “Dead Sexy”) is shot, falls into a pit of spikes where she’s impaled, gets pulled out only to be blown in half by a landmine and land in the pit again, and then finally shoots herself in the head to put an end to it.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: One of the hunters was reassigned to Croatia following the Manorgate scandal.
- Rich Bitch: Athena is wealthy enough to rent and refurbish a mansion in Croatia in order to host her hunt. She also has a private jet.
- Ruritania: Croatia is portrayed as a rural hellhole where the army/border guards will be, at best, totally indifferent to the fates of a handful of kidnapped American tourists hunted for sport, don't seem interested in investigating it as a crime, and the ambassador is also a participant in the Hunt.
- Scandalgate: A conspiracy theory that matches the events of the film is mentioned several times and named "Manorgate". Turns out that the conspiracy theory is what inspired the Hunt in the first place.
- Schmuck Bait: A wooden crate of weapons in the middle of a wide open field. Crystal, pretty much the only one with a brain, ignores it.
- Shoe Slap: On the plane, Athena kills Randy by driving her stiletto heel through his eye.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Crystal utterly destroys Athena's entire position without even trying. Athena attempted to explain how the victims of the hunt brought their fate on themselves by spreading lies about her compatriots, getting them all fired. Then Crystal points out that their response, doing exactly what they claimed they did, makes them exactly the sort of monsters they were accused of being.
- Significant Name Overlap: Crystal mentions that she frequently gets mail meant for another woman sharing her name. This is significant as she's not actually the Crystal the hunter intended to kidnap and kill.
- Slow and Steady Wins the Race: Played for Horror. Crystal narrates a version of The Tortoise and the Hare in which, as usual, this method lets the tortoise win the race... and then, much to the surprise of the fellow hunted she's talking to (who thought that she was telling him that's how they were going to play the game), she follows it with saying that the hare arrived that same night to the tortoise's home and got even by killing the tortoise and his entire family. The man is visibly nervous when Crystal finishes her tale.
- Soft Glass: Thoroughly averted. During the final fight scene, Crystal tries to throw Athena through a glass wall, but she bounces off instead. A moment later, they both get thrown through the glass, breaking it this time, but the action proves so painful that they both end up stunned for a few seconds afterward. Later in the fight, when they're headed for a glass door, Athena shouts, "No more glass," and Crystal slows down enough to let her open the door and walk through normally.
- Spanner in the Works: Crystal ends up derailing the entire hunt simply by being more competent than pretty much everyone else save Athena. Towards the end, it's revealed that this is because they kidnapped the wrong woman. Instead of a school dropout with dead druggie parents who was on welfare and bounced from job to job, they ended up taking a person who happened to be an ex-soldier that served in Afghanistan.
- Straw Character:
- The hunters are stereotypical liberals, with one of the more well-known jokes from the movie being two of the liberals debating whether it's more polite to call someone "black" or "African American"... while dragging away the bloodied corpses of the conservatives they just murdered.
- Many of the victims are stereotypical conservatives, most notably Gary, a loud, obnoxious xenophobe who constantly talks about how immigrants are the cause of all of America's problems.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Athena and the rest of the hunters got fired from their jobs after joking about hunting and killing conservatives in a group text got leaked to the public. As it is in real life, no corporate business is going tolerate that type of behavior; not the least being the backlash they would face from it and how badly it might reflect on their image PR wise.
- Take That, Critics!: The poster◊ shows all the negative reviews.
- Token Minority:
- Played straight with Crisis Mike, who is one of the few named characters of color in the film, and the only one with any major plot relevance.
- Lampshaded in a flashback of the hunters choosing their victims. When Fauxnvoy has a picture of a black politician pop up on screen, all the others groan in disgust at the idea of hunting him. He points out that if they don't have a least one person of color as the victims, it will be 'problematic'. Ultimately though all the victims chosen are white.
- Then Let Me Be Evil: After they were accused of hunting people for sport as a result of a leaked joking text, Athena and her friends all got fired. They then decided to really hunt the people who accused them. Crystal points out how dumb this was - to avenge themselves on a false accusation, they made it true.
- Trailers Always Spoil: Athena’s appearance is treated as a surprise reveal for her actress but Hilary Swank is featured in a few TV spots, including her climactic fight with Crystal.
- Twist Ending: It turns out that the brutal hunt never actually existed until right-wing conspiracy theorists incorrectly accused several liberal elites of participating in one, thereby inspiring them to actually create it.
- Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey: Most of the liberals are hapless bumblers who only pose a threat to the conservatives because the conservatives are equally stupid and the liberals have the advantage of being prepared. Crystal goes through them without missing a beat. However, Athena is genuinely ice-cold, terrifying and a serious threat to Crystal.
- Villain Ball: Athena and her fellow liberals grabbed it from the moment they decided to actually create their own version of The Most Dangerous Game after a rumor accusing them of this already got them fired. They also didn't bother to check if they kidnapped the correct Crystal Creasey, which proves to be their downfall.
- Villainous Valor: Credit where it's due, Liberty sticks to her feminist principles even in the face of death, stating outright that she shouldn't be spared just because she's a woman.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Several hunt victims get killed in the first few minutes of the film, making it intentionally difficult for the audience to settle on who is supposed to be the main character. We get a bit more info on some of these characters late into the film.
- We Named the Monkey "Jack": The pig is named Orwell, because the hunters are drawing symbolism from Animal Farm.
- Would Hurt a Child: Gary threatens an immigrant child with a gun.