VOD film review: The Hunt
James R | On 15, May 2016
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen
Kids say the darnedest things. Usually, it’s harmless. Strangely coloured animals. Made-up words. Quotes from Scooby-Doo (or whatever the cool kids watch these days). But sometimes, those words can have a devastating effect – never more so than in Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt.
Lukas (Mikkelsen) has a happy life. He’s a nursery teacher in a tiny village. He goes on the local hunt every year. His son is leaving his mum to come and stay with him full-time. Everything’s coming up Milhouse. But all that’s shattered when Klara, the daughter of a friend, says something innocent about him that gets hideously misconstrued.
Head teacher Grethe is concerned by the potential accusation and promptly starts asking questions. These questions turn into rumours. Those rumours turn into rumblings. And the rumblings turn into an avalance of abuse. Lukas loses his job. His son is kept from away from him. He can’t even get served in the supermarket. Soon enough, all the kids are joining in the wolf cries, spurred on by hysterical parents.
“I said something foolish,” Klara admits to her mum. “He didn’t do anything.” “Oh honey,” replies her crazed mother. “You’re just misremembering it. You made us so happy by telling us that he did something. Understand?” Klara nods.
It’s the small steps of incrementing fear that Vinterberg captures perfectly. The whole cast is superb, creating a community of believable relationships. As each bond succumbs to mass panic, the paranoia becomes tangible – and Vinterberg’s slow-burn script escalates small-town events to car crash levels of tension that recall Arthur Miller’s The Crucible; a drip feed of destruction that leaves you screaming at the screen.
At the heart of all the madness? Mads himself. His stoic turn is engrossing. He goes slowly about his duties as, one by one, they are erased, transforming him into a bubbling landmine of anger waiting to go off. All the while, his eyes dart about like a deer, wide open with terror as just a few simple words brings his world crashing to the ground. It’s impossible not to watch.