Rates: * * *
Why did I watch it? New release that there was a bit of a fuss over in the US.
In rural Arkansas, or quite possibly Croatia, a bunch of red neck types wake up in a field; gagged, disorientated, and about to have a very bad day. They have been brought there by a sinister cabal of wealthy elitist types, and before you can say ‘The Most Dangerous Game’, the human hunt is on.
The latest Blumhouse movie to tackle social issues by way of silly genre tropes is probably best known for earning the ire of President Trump. In August last year, as minor controversy built around the film’s trailer, Trump angrily denounced the movie as designed to inflame, and called Hollywood ‘racist’ for its depiction of wealthy people. The film’s release was subsequently delayed, and then delayed again.
Now it is available to stream, and we can see exactly what upset Trump so much…. only, you can’t, because there is nothing. The film’s evil richies are actually liberals, who have decided to hunt ‘deplorables’ because they are accused of being bad anyway; if everyone thinks every rich person is a heartless monster, then they may as well embrace it and get their kicks (one of the film’s problems: a pretty flimsy motivation for a murderous killing spree). One of Trump’s key constituencies being hunted by a misguided group of PC elitists? You’d a thought he would’ve loved this; doesn’t he think this is actually what is happening anyway?
In any case, the film makers are not taking sides. The point is that we all bring our own prejudices with us, conscious and unconscious bias, and not being alert to this leads to bad decision making. In this instance, manifested in a very American way, with high powered weaponry.
The film itself is unsubtle, but pretty entertaining. It wrongfoots the audience several times, and you can see co-writer Damon Lindeloff’s prints all over it; more than once the characters, and so, you, think they can see the border of the puzzle they are trapped in, only for it to expand around them once again.
The film also benefits hugely from the lead performance of Betty Gilpin, ass-kickingly tough in an understated way that grounds the unlikely shenanigans. And it is fun to see Hilary Swank in a movie again, and it looks like she is having fun herself. She also appears to have been trapped in a time bubble where she does not age.
The other actors are only so-so, and when the movie shifts focus to its villains, it runs out of steam pretty quickly. A pretty slight film, for such a fuss to have been made; this in itself probably makes the movie’s point.