“How are you going to reclaim your masculinity?” This is the question a cabal of huntsmen ask one another before pursuing a group of women on a remote island in the American boondocks. And from the opening sequence, director Elizabeth Blake-Thomas makes her intentions for Hunt Club clear: to expose the opal heart of toxic masculinity that has been passed down for generations.
In a world of incel culture, ‘alpha’ male influencers and feudal definitions of masculinity being propagated from the depths of TikTok all the way to the highest offices of government, the message Hunt Club strives to deliver is an enduringly relevant one that is perhaps more vital than ever. That’s why it’s a shame the script and cinematography struggle to keep up with the director’s subtext.
Mena Suvari, Micky Rourke and Starship Trooper’s Casper Van Dien seem to be completely ossified by the wooden dialogue. The fight sequences are so poorly choreographed even Steven Seagal would blush. And, the disjointed scenes rob the narrative of any real cohesion, tension or pace, making the violent rise of its victims all the less cathartic.
In short, Hunt Club is an erratic, nebulous mess, but in many ways it perfectly mirrors and satirises the absurdity of toxic masculine ideals. And for all its flaws it still packs the self-deprecating humour and lo-fi, grindhouse aesthetics of similar (but arguably superior) revenge movies like Death Proof or The Retaliators. Whether or not Blake-Thomas brings something new to the conversation or merely adds to its noise and polarity is a matter of personal taste. Don’t expect too many surprises here — except for the fact you might just enjoy yourself.
Casper Van Dien
14 August 2023