M.L. Miller here and welcome to my tenth anniversary Best in Horror Countdown! Every day in this glorious month of October I’ll be counting down the best in horror, culminating with the best horror film since last Halloween! With theaters closed for the bulk of this shitty, shitty year, much of the countdown comes from alternative sources like streaming services, digital download, and On Demand. Plus, we saw the return of the drive-in theater, which is awesome! This list compiles the best horror films released beginning on October 1, 2019 and ending on September 30, 2020. No elitism here—only films released to the public on this list which rules out haughty festival flicks that only esteemed reviewers get to see. If it played on a public screen this year, it’s fair game to be on the list. Here we go!
Released on March 13, 2020. Available on digital download and On Demand from Universal Pictures!!
THE HUNT (2019)
Directed by Craig Zobel
Written by Nick Cuse, Damon Lindelof
Starring Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, Ike Barinholtz, Wayne Duvall, Ethan Suplee, Emma Roberts, Christopher Berry, Sturgill Simpson, Kate Nowlin, Amy Madigan, Reed Birney, Glenn Howerton, Steve Coulter, Dean J. West, Vince Pisani, Teri Wyble, Steve Mokate, Sylvia Grace Crim, Jason Kirkpatrick, Macon Blair, J.C. MacKenzie, Tadasay Young, Hannah Alline, Jim Klock, Usman Ally, Walker Babington, Ariel Eliaz, Alexander Babara, Charli Slaughter
Find out more about this film here!
I honestly wish there were more films made today like THE HUNT. Unfortunately, with the way our culture is in the current moment, I don’t think that’ll be the case. I wish more people had the ability to laugh at themselves. Everyone is so entrenched in politics and the hatred of the other party that a sense of humor and a sense of irony is beyond the realm of consideration. And I think that’s why THE HUNT isn’t going to be extremely popular among those who feel political belief is something one should wear on one’s sleeve and fill up one’s social media feed. Those who feel the need to delete anyone with a different take on a particular issue aren’t going to get THE HUNT. Those who don’t think the people on the other side of the political spectrum are worth listening to or even human beings worth caring about won’t take a second and consider what THE HUNT is trying to say. It’s sad that the world is the way it is, but I’m glad at least THE HUNT took a chance to try to let us know how ridiculous we all are.
THE HUNT opens with a group text referring to a game where people are hunting people. Cut to a period of time later and we open on a group of people waking up on the edge of a field with gags strapped around their heads. A crate of weapons is found just before someone from off screen begin shooting at them. Some live. Some die. And it is pretty evident that this is a “Most Dangerous Game” scenario, where man hunts man until the last one is standing. One of the hunted, Crystal (GLOW’s Betty Gilpin) seems to be very proficient in not getting killed and attempts to whittle the hunters down to find out who is behind it all.
Now, THE HUNT is a thriller heavy on action, comedy, and gore. It’s also a politically charged satire, but if you re-read the description up above, you won’t see the terms Republican, Democrat, liberal, or conservative show up at all. The main reason is that it doesn’t matter if it’s liberals or conservatives doing the hunting or being the hunted, as both walks of life are satirized in equal portions. In both instances, the broadest exaggerations and ugliest of traits associated with both political movements are poked fun at, highlighted, and shown for how horrible they are. There really is no “good guy” or “bad guy” in THE HUNT. It’s a film that points out how ridiculous those who blindly serve either side of the political coin can be. It’s pushed to extremely violent lengths but given the horrors that happen on the news every day these days, it really is not that far a leap from what could happen, given the right circumstances.
Because this film delivers judgment to both Democrats and Republicans with such an even hand, I know there will be some disgusted at the way the film humanizes some people and at the same time, there will be those who take offense for other people being categorized in such a harsh light. Those people, sadly, are lost in their own inner dichotomous thought-space. This movie isn’t for them because, honestly, they lack the insight, the humor, and the modesty to realize that yes, there are times that both Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, haves and have nots, are goddamn morons. And just because you choose to align yourself with one side or the other doesn’t mean that you can’t say that from time to time. If you’re able to laugh at your own party’s idiocy and not take everything so seriously, I think first you’re one of the sane people (and I know there are tons of those out there, more than the talking heads on the news would have you think) and secondly, I think you’ll really enjoy the humor, the action, and the thrills THE HUNT has to offer.
And the humor, action, and thrills are top notch in THE HUNT. The climactic fight scene at the end is one of the best choreographed hand to hand combat scenes I’ve seen since the JASON BORN series as the participants utilize both their fists, feet, heads, and whatever happens to be near them to throw, stab, or pummel their opponent with. There are all sorts of fun twists that will keep you guessing what is real, who’s on who’s side, and which end is up that occur all the way until the very end. There are moments of laugh out loud hilarity as guts, grime, and goo is spatters, splattered, and smattered all over the place. Politics aside, this is an extremely fun roller coaster ride worth taking.
The cast is great too as all sorts of people pop up for cameos, bit parts, and larger ones. If there is a lead, it’s Betty Gilpin’s Crystal and she is a fascinating enigma to see make her way through this carnage and one worth rooting for. Hillary Swank is also fantastic here in a role that is the most physically demanding for her since MILLION DOLLAR BABY and she really dazzles on screen despite the fact that I can’t remember the last time I saw her in a movie. Other notables are IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILLIDELPHIA’s Glenn Howerton, MY NAME IS EARL’s Ethan Suplee, BLUE RUIN’s Macon Blair, and FAN4STIC’s Emma Roberts. It’s fun to see who lives until the next scene and who dies a horribly gruesome and hilarious death.
I also loved the way writers Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof and filmmaker Craig Zobel were able to end this film in a way that makes you laugh as well as wonder who won after all of this mayhem. The answer is none of them. They are all horrible. They are all of us to one extreme or another and believe it or not, if you live life solely by identifying with one set of politics or another, you’re pretty horrible too. There’s more to life than that and it frustrates me that too many people are too blind to see how much time they waste arguing online. The final conversation about the misinterpretation of ANIMAL FARM wonderfully sums up how everyone thinks they aren’t the pigs in the story, when in one case or another, we are all pigs from time to time.
I wish more people would see THE HUNT. I feel if one would go into it with open eyes, it might actually spark some conversation with opposing parties instead of online debate with two fingers in one’s ears and one hovering over the unfriend button waiting for someone to say something you disagree with. I’m not saying that THE HUNT could cause world peace, but at least it could show that by showing the bad in everyone here, it could highlight the good in all of the audience. I am very interested in the way this current era we all live in will be looked back upon. Once everyone gets a little distance from the most recent crisis and the ability to look back, analyze, and be humble enough to admit mistakes were made and alternative routes could have been taken, I wonder what we will all think of the year 2020. I honestly think there will be more films like THE HUNT, but I also feel like we have to get a few years or more ahead of the current state of things to have the ability to look back with clear heads.
I thought THE HUNT was wise beyond its years. The filmmakers were able to look at the current political conflict with surprisingly unbiased eyes and offer up an exciting film that can stand on its own as a thriller as much as it can as a political satire. I hate getting political as I’m sure to piss off at least 50% of my potential viewers, still, I think that THE HUNT does a hell of a lot right when it comes to satirizing the moment we are all in and delivers a damn entertaining movie to boot. I fully recommend this film. It’s a surprise for me, because I loathed the trailer as I felt it was just another PURGE rip-off. Turns out I was wrong and I hope more people will take a chance on THE HUNT and try to view it as the hilarious and smart satirical thriller that it is rather than retreating to one’s political corner to chastise it for getting under your skin.
THE 2019-2020 COUNTDOWN!
#6 – THE HUNT
#7 – THE LODGE
#8 – TRAIN TO BUSAN PRESENTS PENINSULA
#9 – THE INVISIBLE MAN 2020
#10 – HOST
#11 – HARPOON
#12 – GRETEL & HANSEL
#13 – THE HAUNTED
#14 – DOCTOR SLEEP
#15 – DANIEL ISN’T REAL
#16 – THE VAST OF NIGHT
#17 – HOMEWRECKER
#18 – IMPETIGORE
#19 – BUTT BOY
#20 – BECKY
#21 – UNDERWATER
#22 – THE DEAD CENTER
#23 – BLOOD MACHINES
#24 – ALONE
#25 – THE BEACH HOUSE
#26 – AMULET
#27 – LAKE OF DEATH
#28 – SEA FEVER
#29 – THE RENTAL
#30 – ANTRUM: THE DEADLIEST FILM EVER MADE
#31 – REPLACE
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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