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Hunt Club (2022) Review

Casper Van Dien must be a big fan of Richard Connell. Last August he starred in Justin Lee’s adaptation of The Most Dangerous Game, and now he’s back in Hunt Club, another spin on the theme of hunting humans. Here he plays Carter whose taking his son Jackson (Will Peltz, The Collection, Exploited) on what will be “a very big weekend” for him. At a restaurant, they meet Cassandra (Mena Suvari, The Accursed, Apparition) whose girlfriend Tessa (Maya Stojan, Castle, American Sicario) just stormed out after a fight with her. They invite her to join them for a weekend of hunting, with a chance to win $100,000. 

They join up with Teddy (Jason London, Blood Harvest, Dazed and Confused), Preston (Jeremy London, Moon Crash, Dark Rising: Warrior of Worlds) and Lexi (Jessica Belkin, Death Link, Ghost Goggles) and head out to the island. There they meet Conrad (David Lipper, Full House, Lost After Dark) and Williams (Kipp Tribble, Wolf Mountain, The Stay).

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Almost nothing in Hunt Club’s first act feels genuine or authentic. The dialogue isn’t convincing at all and none of the interaction between Carter, Jackson and Cassandra is the least bit believable. It sounds and feels fake from the moment the women come in and Cassandra starts making eyes at Jackson to the moment she agrees to take off with these two guys she just met.

It doesn’t get any better from there. Lexi is portrayed as a bimbo who got with Teddy and Preston on a sugar daddy site. And as Virgil (Mickey Rourke, Skin Traffik, WarHunt) takes the first of the hunted out to the woods, Carter sits at the bonfire with the hunters asking them “When was the last time you heard the word masculinity without the word toxic attached to it?” and claiming men are being literally castrated for having a Y chromosome. There’s no attempt to create actual characters, just cartoonish archetypes that are so over the top it’s hard to take anything about Hunt Club seriously.

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Director Elizabeth Blake-Thomas (Caralique, The League of Legend Keepers: Shadows) and writers David Lipper and John Saunders (Beach Massacre at Kill Devil Hills) want us to take it all seriously. But when one of the hunters makes a face like an outtake from a Wrong Turn sequel as he impales his victim, the effect is just the opposite.

Around the time Cassie along with Yvette (Abrielle Stedman), a stereotypical angry black woman, is led out to be hunted, Hunt Club tries for a couple of twists, but you’ll have seen them coming miles away. If you’re hoping the film at least picks up the pace here, I have some bad news for you.

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While the film’s action scenes are mostly saved for the last half hour, there aren’t that many of them, and they aren’t particularly well done. A lot of things, including what should have been the film’s payoff, happen off-camera and the viewer just gets to see the results. In terms of gore, we get a slit throat and an I Spit on Your Grave inspired scene where someone is knifed in the balls and left to bleed out. Unlike that film or at least the original, this uses bad CGI blood spray.

Hunt Club should have been an effectively nasty film. But the filmmakers spend way too much time letting the villains spout off with speeches that sound like they were stolen from an incel troll bot on Twitter. A few words here and there to make their beliefs clear would have been more effective, making them seen dangerous rather than cartoonish. But as it stands that, plus a lack of action, suspense or logic, makes this one club you don’t want to join.

Uncork’d Entertainment will release Hunt Club on DVD, Vod and Digital Platforms on April 4th. If you’re looking for something similar but hopefully better, FilmTagger can give you a few suggestions.

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