Duplicated Horror: A Review of ‘The Hunting Ground’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - March 11, 2015

Sometimes you’ve just got to be of two minds on a movie.  When a documentary has such a moving, salient and compelling topic you can’t help but get wrapped up in it all.  And when you know it is the type of film that people across the globe have to see, it lets you over look the fact the director has basically copied the exact same format of his previous film, almost to the letter.  Much like his previous film The Invisible War;  Kirby Dick’s The Hunting Ground is a chilling and upsetting look at the culture of rape on college campuses today, that simply has to be seen to be believed.

You’d think a college campus would be a safe place to send a loved one for a higher education, but it really isn’t as The Hunting Ground takes a look at the institutional cover ups that are just engrained in the culture at the schools and the effects that these cover-ups has  on the students, the victims and their families.  Through first person testimonials and archival footage we not only see the inexcusable culture of rape that exists on college campuses but we get to follow the stories of some brave survivors who attempt to push back at a system that actively blames then for their assault and bullies them into silence in order to protect the institution when all these people wanted was a chance at and education and to better themselves.

While yes, both his previous film The Invisible War & The Hunting Ground have a fair bit in common, director Kirby Dick is skilled at fashioning a compelling and gripping reality that needs a light shined on it and shared with the world.

The Hunting Ground middle

As a director, Kirby Dick has a knack to never get too heavy handed when framing his argument and avoiding any sort of obvious manipulations that make you as an audience member feel like you are being put upon while his subjects are never portrayed as helpless victims, just ones that are looking for a way to fight back at the system.  The facts are all very clearly laid out and Dick even allows for a little glimmer of hope as he tells the stories of these victims and the horrible atrocities and indignities that they had to endure just in order to get the education that they wanted to better themselves.

It’s the kind of movie that can seem one sided, however it truly, truly isn’t as Dick allows both sides to be presented while letting horribly worded statements and even stunned silence speak more volumes then you could possibly imagine.  If you’ve seen his previous film, The Invisible War his template for movie making will be unavoidable and despite the slight annoyance I felt at him making a slightly different version of the same film, it doesn’t mean that it is any less powerful.

The Hunting Ground opens in theatres this Friday and it needs to be seen by as many people as humanly possible so that we can help to try and curb the inexcusable tide of abuse in facilities of higher learning.

  • Release Date: 3/13/2015
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David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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