Undetected Spectacle (or, hidden cultural artifacts): The Hunt
Undetected Spectacle is a column by Jessamine who seeks to discover the hidden gems in the world of film.
Most big-budget film spectacles of today rely on the same plot formulas and cliches to gain a large audience, which would hopefully lead to a sequel, a film franchise, or even a cinematic universe that could generate enormous profit. Specifically, in the mainstream horror film genre, the cliches that guarantee big bucks are the jumpscares, gore, excessively violent death scenes, suspenseful soundtrack, and the grotesque antagonist(s). However spectacular these cliches are, they are not truly spectacular because they are only concerned with quantity, but not the quality of the horrors.
The Hunt (Jagten) is classified either as a drama, thriller, or both, but I would call it a horror film centering on a male kindergarten teacher, from a small town where everyone knows each other, who is falsely accused of indecent actions towards one of his young students. From the first few minutes of the film, it is made clear to the audience that the protagonist is innocent of all accusations against him.
Thus, the horror begins. The film is a frightening spectacle that never relies on cheap scares or quantity of such elements, but instead causes unease in the audience’s mind, a disconcerting, bitter feeling that stays on their minds long after watching, which points to the quality of fear, not its conspicuous quantity. Its realism and relevance to contemporary societies makes it all the more scarier, as false accusations in the modern world is not to be taken lightly, especially when false information can rapidly spread in the digital media.
What of the “hunting” of the so-called paedophilic protagonist? If viewers were not shown in the beginning of the film that the main character is innocent, then they may easily take the side of the “mob” in the small community area hunting him down, hence branding the protagonist as the film’s antagonist. Since the opposite is true, viewers, like myself, can see a horror narrative slowly unfold, as the claustrophobia and the unseen threats begin to descend upon the protagonist. Without the use of excessive gore or jump scares, the film manages to alarm the viewers of the ever-growing smallness of the protagonist’s safe space.
Jessamine (Jess) is a senior at Georgetown University Qatar. She majors in Culture and Politics.