Craig Zobel, director of controversial horror movie The Hunt, has broken his silence about the film being cancelled.
The Hunt, which told the story of a group of red-state strangers kidnapped and hunted by “Liberal elites” for sport, and was due to be released earlier this month, was cancelled by Universal in the wake of a series of mass shootings in the US and criticism of the film by Donald Trump.
In his first interview since the movie was shelved, Zobel has argued that the thriller’s message was misrepresented in media reports.
Zobel told Variety he had no intention of inflaming political conflict. “If I believed this film could incite violence, I wouldn’t have made it,” he said, adding that his aim was to satirise “both sides” of the divide.
“Our ambition was to poke at both sides of the aisle equally,” he said. “We seek to entertain and unify, not enrage and divide. It is up to the viewers to decide what their takeaway will be.”
Universal suspended the marketing campaign for the movie after the mass shootings in Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton, following which Trump denounced Hollywood’s “racism” and claimed the film aimed “to inflame and cause chaos”. Fox News commentators also condemned The Hunt, branding it “sick” and “awful.”
“I wanted to make a fun, action thriller that satirised this moment in our culture – where we jump to assume we know someone’s beliefs because of which ‘team’ we think they’re on… and then start shouting at them,” said Zobel. “This rush to judgement is one of the most relevant problems of our time.”
Zobel did say that he supported the studio’s decision to delay The Hunt’s release after the series of mass shootings.
“I was devastated by going to sleep to El Paso and waking up to Dayton,” he said. “These types of moments happen far too often. In the wake of these horrific events, we immediately considered what it meant for the timing of our film. Once inaccurate assumptions about the content and intent of the movie began to take hold, I supported the decision to move the film off its release date.”
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