Hunted (2022) Review
Released as Hounded in its UK homeland Hunted, not to be confused with the 2020 film of the same name, is the latest cinematic variation on The Most Dangerous Game. It takes elements from films like Don’t Breathe, Nefarious, and Turkey Shoot then adds the very upper-class British tradition of fox hunting. The result is a not-so-subtle survival horror metaphor for class warfare.
Leon (Nobuse Jr, The Group, Hello Au Revoir) and his brother Chaz (Malachi Pullar-Latchman, Shark Bait, Open All Night) along with their partners Vix (Hannah Traylen, Howard’s End, Boiling Point) and Tod (Ross Coles, Guilty as Sin, The Rise and Fall of Tommy Concord) have a good racket going on. Gregory (Larry Lamb, Superman, EastEnders), the local antique dealer hires them to rob his own customers. It’s good money for a quick in and out, grabbing the one item of value he wants.
Having made enough to send Chaz to college, Leon is ready to retire. The others however want one more job to set themselves up. Reluctantly Leon agrees to steal a ceremonial dagger from local aristocrat Katherine Redwick (Samantha Bond, GoldenEye, The Kindred). This time however they find somebody waiting for them. They find themselves covered in fox urine and dumped in a field with the sound of horns and hounds in the distance.
First-time feature director Tommy Boulding and writers Ray Bogdanovich and Dean Lines who previously co-wrote The Banishing and The Hatton Garden Job do a decent job of setting the two sides up. While they can’t avoid the fact the leads are criminals they make their crimes as inoffensive as possible while making them a likable bunch.
On the other hand, Hunted’s villains are an extremely unlikeable lot. Katherine and her family, her father Remington (James Faulkner, Atomic Blonde, Never Back Down: Revolt), brother Hugo (James Lance, The Bookshop, Ted Lasso), and nephew Miles (Louis Walwyn, The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself) are from the kind of family that’s still upset the locals aren’t their literal serfs anymore.
They see hunting and killing peasants as their right, and if they’re criminals or have the wrong colour skin all the better. At one point they take a break from the hunt, complete with servants to wait on them, further illustrating how far above mere mortals they consider themselves.
On a narrative level, Hunted is a surprisingly solid thriller. Prior to this Boulding had a long career as an editor, working on films as diverse as Possum, The Power, and Sword of Vengeance. It serves him well here with the staging of the film’s scenes of action and violence. A scene of someone being mauled by the hounds for example is given a lot more impact while showing surprisingly little blood.
There’s actually not much in the way of gore in Hunted beyond some burn effects. The film leans more on suspense and action scenes for effect rather than its more horrific elements. In fact, it’s really pushing things to call it a horror film, while the idea of hunting humans for sport may qualify it as one, the execution is anything but. Indeed the most horrific thing about Hunted may be the message the film delivers at the conclusion. It doesn’t matter which group won this battle, the system is still stacked against us mere peons.
Thankfully, while the script puts it’s points out there where it’s pretty hard to miss them, it doesn’t constantly dwell on them. Hunted is a thriller first and foremost, and one worth seeing.