A crime against an innocent, whether committed with malice or by accident, is unforgivable. In The Hunt, Lucas, a kindergarten teacher, is accused of molesting one of his students, Karla. He is innocent, but the mob mentality of the parents whom he was once friends with refuses him the chance to defend himself. Lucas is not the only victim of the story however. Karla, though she is never molested, is a victim at the hands of her parents and the kindergarten administrators.
The initial “accusation” is Karla repeating something she overheard her brother say and assumed it was an insult. She was upset with Lucas and was venting her frustration with him and the rest of his gender. Unfortunately the teacher she was venting to had no way of knowing that that was what Karla was doing and she took it as a possible cry for help. The next day, the teacher follows up with Karla and enlists the help of a child psychologist. This is when gray begins to invade the situation. The teacher’s low key investigation of Karla’s statement at this point is neither an act of harm or paranoia, in fact it is just good sense. The harmful act begins when the child psychologist begins to put words in Karla’s mouth as he asks her questions. Karla has no idea what the man’s questions mean or the implications of her barely detectable nods. She expresses several times that she said something stupid and that she does not want to answer any questions. Throughout the rest of the film she continues this mantra of, “I said something stupid. Lucas didn’t do anything wrong.” Meanwhile the adults in the community banish Lucas and make his life hell as they hold to the belief that he hurt Karla and several other students.
We as the omniscient audience feel a deep anger and frustration with these adults. We see them impose this situation upon the children, but never attempt to explain it to them or help them heal from the trauma they think they have experienced. Their only action is to hunt Lucas and punish him for his crime. The gut reaction to accuse without investigation and to harm rather than to heal is the human fault this film addresses.
Investigating Karla’s statement is not wrong, because as one of the film’s characters states, “Unfortunately, these claims are often true.” The violence and destruction Lucas suffers at the hands of the community is wrong, as well as unlawful, and provides no help or healing for anyone in the community.
Once Lucas’s case is reviewed in court and he is found to be innocent, his life is slowly restored to what it once was, but this is an ideal, what we would hope would happen. Cases like Lucas’s are not common but they do occur and rarely are the accused ever accepted back into their community with such open arms. The suspicion born from the accusation lingers. We are not quick to forgive, but we are quick to condemn.