The Reel Review
Imagine waking up with a group of strangers in a field, not knowing where you are or how you got there, only to discover you now are being hunted. Such is the premise behind this controversial horror/thriller based on the 1924 short story “The Most Dangerous Game” – its release postponed last August after a couple of mass shootings in the United States.
The film starts off as a surreal, gore-filled orgy of violence with some pretty well done shocks in the first 25 minutes. But then director John Vogel (Westworld) veers into political satire, poking fun at both the far right and far left as the body count continues to rise and the backstory comes to light. Surprise – despite a few chuckles, it’s actually really stupid.
The lone shining star throughout, however, is Betty Gilpin (A Dog’s Journey, Isn’t It Romantic) as Crystal, one of the most refreshingly matter-of-fact, awesome anti-heroes in recent cinematic history. She isn’t saving a kid, she isn’t seeking revenge against a man who’s wronged her – she’s just a badass who is fed up with being caught in the middle of this mess – sort of like a political Independent in room full of bickering Democrats and Republicans. Sadly, this ultimate misfire of a film – with a bizarre casting choice of double Oscar winner Hilary Swank – itself ultimately proves to be unworthy of such a fun, cool character.
• Filmed in New Orleans, this is the second film adaptation of “The Most Dangerous Game.” The first was John Woo’s 1993 film, Hard Target.
• Betty Gilpin’s big acting break was the character Liberty Belle in the Netflix 2017 series GLOW, about female pro wrestling.
• Emma Roberts and Amy Madigan previously co-starred in 2010’s Virginia