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  • Writer's pictureS.J.

Quick Reviews: 'The Hunt', 'Vivarium' | Satire, Action Thriller, Jesse Eisenberg, Imogen Poots

Betty Gilpin pointing a rifle, Imogen Poots behind a glass window
The Hunt (L), Vivarium (R)


What an unwarranted noise did people make about The Hunt before it was even released. You could certainly expect some discomfort from its home country since it does have very extreme characters from both left and the right of political spectrum, however it is much tamer than you’d think it would be. I’d only give a slight heads-up if you’re an American and find yourself to be very much locked further into either side because it will have remarks about it but otherwise it’s a fast, decent movie made for everyone.

Forgive me for the phrasing but thankfully the film comes out with metaphorical guns blazing as after two short scenes you get right to the hunt. There the direction plays around with the viewer’s perspective multiple times and offers plenty of surprising choices. Eventually we do find our main character, Crystal (Betty Gilpin), who is also the least readable of everyone. Gilpin really carries most of the non-action scenes by herself but you don’t really mind that due to her fierce performance. With the exception of Crystal, it’s a shortcut to paint over others very broadly so there’s no real need to question their characterisation.

The Hunt doesn’t have all that much weight pulling it down. Action sequences notably towards the end are shot and executed pretty well all while using the spaces to their full extent and the location travelling parts of it aren’t overly drawn-out. Director Craig Zobel tightly compresses it all into quickly moving 90 minutes and the cliche-catchphrase-filled dialogue thankfully isn’t used constantly. There is (what I assume) a mix of practical and visual effects used to amplify the gore so it doesn’t appear to be too dreamy with CGI or too real-world-like with just blood splatter. What prevents the film becoming a satirical classic is that it’s a bit toothless overall.

Smileys: Betty Gilpin

Frowneys: Nothing too bad really

Watch the movies first and then write pieces about them after.


Betty Gilpin pointing a rifle in a shop
Universal Pictures


Another addition to the collection of movies where the characters find themselves trapped in one place, Vivarium takes and puts its players in a pastel-coloured suburban bubble. Director Lorcan Finnegan has managed to get Jesse Eisenberg (Tom) and Imogen Poots (Gemma) to play a young couple that is trying to figure out the mysterious boy-child and the neighbourhood where all the houses are alike. Whereas the first 20 to 30 minutes is pretty and quirky fun, the writing doesn’t really get over the speed-bump for the rest of it.

Thank the heavens for some colours in a film in 2020. This year especially has been awfully dim and faded when it comes to visuals so seeing different shades of red, green and blue utilised is very much welcomed. Set decoration and art department are the most obvious beneficiaries from it, everything inside the house is rather pleasing. Eisenberg and Poots are both fine in their roles and they have enough chemistry to pass off as a couple living together. The boy, who is played in different ages by Senan Jennings and Éanna Hardwicke, isn’t the most difficult role technique-wise but both actors do alright job portraying him in a creepy fashion.

As mentioned, the first third or fourth of the film is extremely solid but then it starts to pretty much repeat its own scenes and it seems like it’s by accident. One character gets stuck to one action for an hour and another has some lines and scenes that bear no importance for what comes after. It’s just one of those where the story synopsis has just two sentences (enough for a short film) when you need to double that to have a compelling feature. I also meant it when I said that everything inside looks great because the outside is where there are some problems. The surroundings done with visual effects have been done better in other similar situations so it’s a bit distracting when you can see the lines between the blue screen and actors.

Smileys: Set decoration

Frowneys: Story, VFX

It’s not bad but 20 minutes isn’t enough for good either.


Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg looking at a poster on a store window
Saban Films

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