The world is not ready for the tsunami of think pieces now guaranteed to crest next month. On Friday, March 13, Universal will finally release The Hunt—the Jason Blum-produced horror satire the studio shelved last fall after its premise stoked controversy. The film seemingly centers on a group of rich liberals who hunt down conservatives for sport—but as a new trailer makes clear, all might not be what it seems.
Conservatives railed against The Hunt last summer, before the film had even debuted. In August, at the height of the controversy, Donald Trump, ever concerned about the state of our cultural discourse, chimed in as well, tweeting, “Liberal Hollywood is Racist at the highest level, and with great Anger and Hate! They like to call themselves “Elite,” but they are not Elite. In fact, it is often the people that they so strongly oppose that are actually the Elite.” The film, he insisted in a follow-up post, was only intended “to inflame and cause chaos.”
“They create their own violence, and then try to blame others,” the president concluded. “They are the true Racists, and are very bad for our Country!”
Although Universal responded to the ire last year by pulling the film, its latest promotion for The Hunt fully leans into the old firestorm. Promotional materials claim, “The most talked about movie of the year is one that no one’s actually seen.” On a new poster, the film’s former premiere date, September 27, appears crossed out beside the new one—right below the taunt, “Decide for yourself.”
Speaking with io9 about the film’s relaunch, Blum said that the most frustrating aspect of last year’s scandal over the film was that no one had actually seen the movie itself. “[P]articularly after we decided to take it off the schedule, it was incredibly frustrating because then not only we couldn’t say, ‘Well, wait and see,’” Blum said. “...So we had to balance our frustration with what was the route to pursue to get the movie out. So we had to bite our tongues until now.”
Added co-writer Damon Lindelof, “In hindsight, as it was happening, I completely understood why it was happening... [But] having seen it play in test screenings, it was just completely and totally beyond my understanding that the movie was controversial or provocative...It always felt so over the top and absurd, that it was entering into a dangerous space, or a controversial space, just completely threw me for a loop.”
But as they say, it’s better late than never—and so now it appears it’s time, at long last, to “decide for ourselves.”