The targets in The Hunt are selected by Athena and her friends due to dark secrets in their past. Here’s a breakdown of each character’s backstory.
In The Hunt, a group of twelve “deplorables” are hunted for sport because of how their dark backstories intertwine with Hilary Swank’s Athena. Before the events of the film, Athena and her friends all held high-ranking corporate jobs, but those were all taken away from them when the contents of their text chain, which joked about hunting “deplorables” for sport, were linked online. Swank and her friends vowed to get revenge on those who propagated the rumors online and cost them everything.
The group rounded up and kidnapped twelve people. The controversy-laden horror film opens with their prey dropped in the middle of an open field and began to open fire. What Athena and her friends didn’t expect was that one of the hunted would start fighting back. Just as the hunters easily take down members of the hunted, Betty Gilpin’s Crystal May begins to pick off her tormentors one-by-one. Eventually, Crystal May and Athena are the last ones standing.
The final act of the film sees Athena and Crystal May meeting face-to-face for a showdown. But before that can happen, Athena launches into an epic villainous monologue on why she selected each person to be hunted, giving the audience a peek into every character’s dark backstory.
Every Character’s Backstory in The Hunt
During her villainous speech, Athena reveals that Crystal and the other “deplorables” like her made the hunt happen. They so badly wanted it to be true that they spread rumors without verifying the facts. Athena and her friends decided to give them what they wanted by crafting the perfect hunt. They went all in, hiring various consultants to make sure they were properly trained, both physically and mentally.
A flashback sequence sees Athena training while the rest of the group goes over targets of their upcoming hunt. The consultant they hired presents each option, along with a “P” score (piece of sh*t) to accompany each person. This score is determined by a combination of their actions or the rumors they spread about the hunters online. As the backstories for two members of the hunted are revealed during this presentation.
(Shut the F*ck Up) Gary — The consultant reveals to the group that Gary has a podcast called The Confederate Files. He posted about Manor Gate online under the screen name Gary4USA. The group gives him a 8.5 P score.
Trucker — Justin Hartley’s character is listed as “Trucker” in the credits, but this sequence reveals his name to be Shane. Or, as he identifies himself online, BigGameShane. The picture included in the presentation shows Shane with a rhino that he just shot and killed. Athena and her friends agree that Shane has earned a 8.8 P score.
The flashback leads to present day, where Crystal May begins the trek to meet with Athena face-to-face. As she walks into the house, she’s immediately drawn to a wall with photos taped to it. Although she may not understand their significance, these photos reveal the backstories of the majority of the hunted to the audience.
Dead Sexy — Thanks to Athena’s wall of shame, the woman impaled by spikes in the beginning of the film is revealed to be a huge gun nut. This shouldn’t be a surprise, as she called Ike Barinholtz’s Staten Island a snowflake for not shooting her when she was mortally wounded.
Target — His photo on the wall shows him with weapons and protective gear. It’s unclear what Target was planning to do in that photo, but audiences can assume it wasn’t good.
Staten Island — Ike Barinholtz’s Staten Island was portrayed in a bit of a heroic light when he attempted to get a group of the hunted to safety, but his photo on Athena’s wall shows that he is anything but that. His photo shows him menacingly holding a tiki torch. The image is reminiscent of the 2017 protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which white nationalists flooded the campus with tiki torches in protest of the town removing a statue that symbolize’s the area’s Confederate past. That photo of Staten Island implies that he was present at the protest or another racist protest somewhere in the country.
Vanilla Nice — Vanilla Nice doesn’t make it far in the movie, but his background makes an impact on Athena and her friends. His picture on the wall reveals that he is a former convict, but the crime he commits remains unclear.
Big Red — Big Red is revealed to be a raging homophobe, as her photo shows her participating in anti-gay protests, offensive signs and all.
Yoga Pants — Emma Roberts plays a character only known as Yoga Pants. The Hunt director Craig Zobel made a bold choice by killing off Roberts early in the film. What might be more surprising is that she barely receives a backstory in the film. Her photo shows her dressed conservatively and posing with a politician. It’s safe to assume that this was a very conservative Republican politician, whose policies greatly offended Athena and her friends.
Crystal May — Athena tells Crystal May that she’s the group’s Snowball, referring to the idealist pig in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. In Athena’s eyes, Crystal May is the epitome of a loser. She lost both parents to drugs and cannot hold down a job. Worst of all, she posts online as Justice4Yall, spreading rumors about Manor Gate and cussing out Athena. Crystal May’s photo is shown in the initial presentation where the group picked out their targets. It seems that Athena had her sights set on her from the get go.
But the thing is, Betty’s Gilpin’s Crystal May is the wrong Crystal. Athena and her friends intended to grab Crystal Mae, who is another woman in the same hometown. Due to the mistaken identity, audiences never learn Crystal May’s true background. In fact audiences never learn if Crystal May is the real Crystal.
Rannndeeee — Rannndeeee, or Randy, as one can assume his name is actually, kicks the bucket fairly early in the film. He awakes in the middle of the flight to the abandoned field where the hunted are dropped. A member of the hunted kills him before he can fight back. As audiences didn’t get to see much of Randy, his backstory is left out of the film’s final act.
Don — Just like Crystal May, Don’s true identity is a mystery. He’s dumped in the field with every other member of the hunted, and even tags along with Crystal for the vast majority of the film. But near the end, as Crystal begins to slaughter members of the hunters left and right, Athena calls out Don’s name on the radio, signal that he was a spy. Naturally, Crystal kills him on the spot. Athena later cruelly tells Crystal that it was a trick — Don never belonged to her group. Audiences never get confirmation one way or the other. Don’s photo is never shown on the wall in Athena’s home, so his true identity remains a mystery.
The hunted includes one more man, but his name was never revealed, nor was his photo shown on Athena’s wall. He clearly participated in some sort of ultra conservative activities for the hunters to give him a high enough P score to become a target of the hunt. Despite its campy violence, Athena’s method of revenge offers a painstakingly honest look at the culture the internet has shaped, political affiliations aside. Nearly every person on the film has a dark secret in their past, from the dark backstories of the hunted to the hunters actually going through with the hunt.
Social media and the internet are used to expose people on both sides of the aisle. Whether it was true or not, Athena claims that the text chain about hunting people for sport was just a joke. But conservatives online spread rumors of Manor Gate with the use of social media. In turn, Athena and her friends track down each person they intend to hunt through the internet. Thanks to the instantaneous connection the internet offers, rumors and secrets are spread at the speed of lightning.
The Hunt offers an extreme circumstance of what the internet has done to society. Anyone can write anything they’d like to online. And thanks to social media, stories can go viral, without being verified for accuracy. Thanks to the veil of anonymity that the internet, people can offer brash and cruel commentary on these stories.
Athena and her friends thought they were giving people a taste of their own medicine when they dug up their dark backstories online. As she didn’t verify Crystal May’s story before her group decided to kidnap her, they were doing the same thing that the conservatives who spread rumors of Manor Gate online were condemned for doing. This just goes to show that no one is immune from the traps of the internet. People use each other’s secrets and backstories as weapons. Sometimes, as The Hunt portrays, the cruelty exhibited online can lead to dangerous repercussions.
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