- Business Insider read the script for the movie "The Hunt," which Universal decided to not release in the wake of the mass shootings in early August and criticism from President Trump.
- The Blumhouse Productions thriller about a group of people who are hunted by liberal elites is extremely graphic and features a lot of gun violence.
- But the movie is not a liberal-versus-conservative story, as it has sometimes been depicted in the media.
- Still, there are references that could have angered Trump or his supporters.
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In the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; and Gilroy, California in early August, Universal announced it was pulling its September 27 release of Blumhouse Production’s "The Hunt," with no indication when (or if) it would ever be released.
Because of the gun violence and red-state-versus-blue-state vibe of the trailer, which shows 12 strangers suddenly waking up in a remote location and being hunted by a group of rich elites, the movie had become a flash point of controversy.
A day before Universal announced it had taken the movie off its slate, President Trump called Hollywood "really terrible" and "racist," and tweeted, "the movie coming out is made in order … to inflame and cause chaos." Many in Hollywood and the media took Trump’s tweet to refer to "The Hunt."
But most people debating "The Hunt" online and in the media hadn’t seen in. In fact, other than those involved with the movie, directed by Craig Zobel ("Compliance," episodes of HBO’s "The Leftovers"), and test screening audiences, no one had.
So is the movie (budgeted at $15 million) an ultra-violent modern take on "The Most Dangerous Game" with liberal elites picking off "deplorables" for fun, as it has sometimes been portrayed in the media?
Business Insider was given a draft of the script written by Nick Curse and Damon Lindelof (creator of HBO series "The Leftovers" and "Watchmen"). Here’s what we know.
(No major spoilers, we promise.)
Note: Details below could change as the movie is currently being edited.
The movie is extremely violent.
Violent? I know, shocker! It’s a Blumhouse movie about humans being hunted. But the violence in the movie needs to be addressed.
There are multiple scenes where the violence is extreme. In one instance, a man is killed by a stiletto heel being jabbed into his eyeball (you may have caught that in the trailer). Then in another sequence, a woman being chased by the elites falls into a trench with wooden spikes, is rescued and pulled off the spikes, only to later fall back in the trench and land on the spikes … again. And in yet another scene, the movie’s hero, Crystal ("Glow" star Betty Gilpin), gives a disturbing telling of "The Tortoise and the Hare" while trying to get a large hunting knife out of a dead man’s face.
In many instances in the script, the violence feels very over-the-top, almost darkly comedic. But at this time, many are likely not looking to go see this kind of movie.
It’s not about liberal elites hunting conservatives, but you have to think that going into the movie for it to work.
This is the big one (and I promise not to spoil the movie). The Universal marketing is its own worst enemy in this instance. Though the trailers and other ads make it look like "The Hunt" is focused on some kind of secret "sport" for the ultra-rich (reminiscent to those who paid to torture people in "Hostel"), that is not exactly what the movie is about.
This sleight of hand is needed for the movie to work. You need to go in thinking it’s liberals versus conservatives. But as the movie goes on, you realize that there is nothing political about the motivations of the elites in the movie.
The shocking twist makes you think about the movie completely differently.
But there are definitely lines that could anger Trump or his supporters.
TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images
Outside of the violence in the movie, some of Universal’s motivation to pull the release likely was that it could have gotten hit hard on social media by Trump or his supporters. Why? Because there are certain lines that could spark anger from him and his base.
In the script, a group text thread among the elites includes one writing, "Did anyone see what our ratf—er in chief just did?" One answers, "At least the hunt’s coming up. Nothing better than going out to The Manor and slaughtering a dozen deplorables." In another version of the script, that line ends "slaughtering a dozen inbred rednecks."
And in another scene in the script, before an elite kills someone, the person says to their victim, "For the record … climate change is real."
In the US’ charged political climate, it’s safe to say lines like these would have caused a stir.
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