Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are, or how they got there. They don’t know they’ve been chosen...for a specific purpose…The Hunt. The new action-thriller from Blumhouse Productions features over-the-top violence and crazy stunt sequences, including one in particular that serves as the pièce de résistance of the movie’s unique blend of exaggerated action, horror, and comedy.
In the shadow of a dark internet conspiracy theory, a group of elites gathers for the very first time at a remote Manor House to hunt ordinary Americans for sport. But the elite’s master plan is about to be derailed because one of The Hunted, Crystal, knows The Hunters’ game better than they do. Crystal is played by Betty Gilpin, who imbues the character with hidden depths and surprising skills. Upon reading the script, director Craig Zobel knew Betty Gilpin would be great in the role. Executive producer and co-writer Nick Cuse agrees:
“Betty is so incredibly fascinating and compelling in every frame of this movie,” says Cuse. “For people in the audience who don’t know Betty yet, they’re all going to be saying, ‘Wow, who is that?!’”
At the center of the elite’s master plan is a mysterious woman named Athena, played by two-time Oscar® winner Hilary Swank. Similar to Betty Gilpin’s casting, Zobel felt Swank was the perfect choice to play the self-made billionaire and former CEO.
“She was perfect for Athena because even though she doesn’t have a lot of screen time, she leaves an indelible impression,” says Zobel, “and Hilary knows exactly how to do that. She does it every time.”
The casting choices for Crystal and Athena were so important because not only would they need to command the screen, but they would ultimately face off in a battle of brains and brawn, meaning a layer of physicality was needed to bring these two principal roles to life.
“The Hunt is really a showdown between Hilary Swank’s Athena on one side, and Betty Gilpin’s Crystal on the other,” says producer Jason Blum.
Crystal (Betty Gilpin) and Athena (Hilary Swank) in The Hunt (2020)
When these two characters face off in bloody, brutal hand-to-hand combat, any adjective you can think of to describe the fight scene seems like an understatement. The extensive stunt sequence starts in the kitchen and moves out from there in a flurry of tumbling, smashing, and crashing, meaning any design ideas production designer Matthew Munn had for the set would have to work not only aesthetically and thematically but functionally as well.
“We didn’t want to design something and then retro-fit it to work for special effects or stunts,” says Munn. “We wanted everything to work seamlessly from the beginning.”
Stunt coordinators Hank Amos and Heidi Moneymaker built a cardboard box version of the set to get a sense of space and movement within the design while planning the choreography of the stunts. As a result of this collaboration, the two teams were able to settle on a design concept that would accommodate and enhance the fight choreography.
“We worked out how the fight would progress, what would happen next, where the actors would end up and started to work stunt safety into the design,” says Munn. “The entire interior of the manor house set was basically a big jungle gym for stunts.”
The cast and crew alike were all impressed with the final, on-screen product, and for Betty Gilpin, filming the scene was like a dream come true.
“That was the last thing we shot, and it was sort of the grand finale of dreams coming true for me,” says Gilpin. “We built a kitchen to destroy a kitchen. It was truly insane.”
The Hunt has been dubbed the most talked about movie of the year that no one has actually seen. This Friday, March 13th you have a chance to see the new action-thriller from Blumhouse Productions and decide for yourself.