Is Universal Shelving “The Hunt” for the Right Reasons?

Amidst a sea of controversy, and real life tragedy, Universal Pictures has decided to indefinitely cancel the release of their film, The Hunt.  And the internet seems to be pretty divided on the matter.  However, even before this happened, there was a strange political controversy surrounding it that may have affected the studio’s decision.  At the end of the day, is it sensitivity or some other reason causing them to do it?

Hitting Too Close to Home
In a most unfortunate turn of events, the US has seen a spike in mass shootings in the last few years.  Most shocking was when three occurred over the span of just 5 days from July 28 to August 4 of this year.  With these tragedies being so fresh in our collective minds, it’s understandable for Universal to want to postpone their film’s release, due to the fact that its plot deals with people being hunted and gunned down.

Universal has even removed the trailer from the YouTube page, as well as other marketing. But is there more to the story?

This certainly isn’t the first time that real life tragedy cause a film to be postponed.  The Arnold Schwarzenegger action/thriller Collateral Damage was initially set for release in October 2001, but after the September 11th attacks, it was delayed, due to its plot dealing with terrorism.  It wasn’t until two months later in November 2001 that it was finally given a new released date in February 2002.  So there’s still a very good chance we’ll see The Hunt get released perhaps in early 2020.

Political Divide
Long before these recent tragedies occurred, The Hunt was already garnering a great deal of political controversy.  Based on the trailer, it appears that the people being hunted are meant to represent traditional conservatives from red states (they’re even referred to as “deplorables”).  And those doing the hunting are rich elite liberals, who proclaim tolerance but actually look down upon small town people.

The president himself, along with others on the right weighed in on the film, criticizing it for its portrayal of conservatives being hunted for sport.  However, this seems a bit confusing, because the trailer certainly makes it look like they’re the heroes and the elitist liberals are the villains.  So perhaps they didn’t actually watch the trailer or they’re just responding to hearing the basic premise of the film.

But this is hardly the first horror film to deal with political issues like this.  In the fact the very same studio released four Purge films in the last 6 years, which also dealt with class warfare.  But with The Purge, it was more about the rich against the poor, and they were careful not to specify who was liberal or conservative.  Though one could argue that Election Year was not so subtle in its portrayal of a female presidential candidate, who was obviously based on Hillary Clinton.

The Purge: Election Year even used “Keep America Great” as its tagline, an obvious reference to Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again”. But he and other conservatives didn’t speak out against that film. So why speak out against The Hunt?

Hopefully, Universal’s decision to postpone is based more on the first reason than the second.  The point is, there’s no reason to freak out because most likely, it will still be released several months later.  And if people continue to criticize it, without actually looking at the plot and understanding who the heroes/villains are, it’s just going to attract more attention to it.  We’ll probably see get to see it soon enough, and be able to judge it on its own merits.

Ready or Not, another film dealing with someone being hunted (with guns) is still scheduled for release next week. But perhaps due to the lack of political controversy around it, no one will take issue with it!

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