A lot of debate has been had about the now-canceled release of the Blumhouse thriller “The Hunt.” The apparently problematic film features a plot that includes conservative folks (referred to as “deplorables”) being hunted for sport by liberal elites, and when the marketing for the film first began, media and politicians rallied against it, especially in light of recent mass murders. As you might imagine, feelings about the film are all over the place, with everyone talking about “The Hunt.” Well, everyone except the man who made the film.
Now, thanks to a new report from Variety, Craig Zobel, the guy who directed the controversial thriller, is breaking his silence and talking about the content of “The Hunt,” as well as Universal’s decision to cancel the release, just a month ahead of its theatrical debut.
“If I believed this film could incite violence, I wouldn’t have made it,” Zobel wrote.
He added, “Our ambition was to poke at both sides of the aisle equally. We seek to entertain and unify, not enrage and divide. It is up to the viewers to decide what their takeaway will be.”
As mentioned, political blowback, led by a not-so-subtle callout from President Donald Trump, led to “The Hunt” being labeled as “anti-conservative” and “racist.” The film also was criticized by those on the left for promoting violence, on the heels of recent shootings with political/bigoted motivations. But for Zobel, he doesn’t see his film as problematic at all. In fact, he says that the film is a satire that is perfectly timed for right now.
“I wanted to make a fun, action thriller that satirized this moment in our culture — where we jump to assume we know someone’s beliefs because of which ‘team’ we think they’re on… and then start shouting at them. This rush to judgment is one of the most relevant problems of our time,” he said.
Even though he doesn’t see a problem with the actual content of the film, he does understand that perhaps right this moment isn’t the best time to release “The Hunt,” due to the shootings.
“I was devastated by going to sleep to El Paso and waking up to Dayton,” the filmmaker added. “These types of moments happen far too often. In the wake of these horrific events, we immediately considered what it meant for the timing of our film. Once inaccurate assumptions about the content and intent of the movie began to take hold, I supported the decision to move the film off its release date.”
But Zobel isn’t the only one opening up about the film’s cancellation. In fact, Universal is now speaking up, but not to defend itself. Instead, the Hollywood studio wants to refute some reports that said “The Hunt” was originally going to be canceled due to poor test audience reaction. In addition, reports that said the original title of the film was the incendiary “Red State vs. Blue State” are completely false.
“Additionally, no audience members in attendance at the test screening expressed discomfort with any political discussion in the film,” said Universal. “While reports also say ‘The Hunt’ was formerly titled ‘Red State vs. Blue State,’ that was never the working title for the film at any point throughout the development process, nor appeared on any status reports under that name.”
At this point, it’s unlikely that “The Hunt” will arrive in theaters anytime soon, if at all, due to the political climate that is surely going to only get worse over the next year, as the United States moves into one of the most contentious presidential elections in history. That being said, there are plenty of other avenues that “The Hunt” could take for release, perhaps on streaming?