First of all, let me say, this isn’t a typical “horror” movie in the way it’s normally defined. However, the contents of it are horrific in the way that it shows how much humans can turn against each other and what they are capable of. I don’t even think it would be defined as a horror. If I looked it up, I’d say it would pretty much say drama/thriller. I decided to include it because ultimately it is horrific. As usual this will not be a spoiler free review.
Jagten (The Hunt) is a Danish movie that stars Mads Mikkelsen. He plays a man named Lucas who is divorced but has a son and works at a daycare/kindergarten type place. It’s never really defined as what it is, and the movie is in Danish and is subtitled so you’d have to be okay with that part first. Anyway, Lucas is always kind of looking after a young girl named Klara because she’s the daughter of his best friend. At home her brother is kind of a jerk to her and whatever, she ends up seeing pornography because of this.
It’s clear she has some sort of weird affection for Lucas because it’s also clear she doesn’t get much of that at home and one day at the daycare center she kisses him. He tells her that it isn’t okay and she’s not supposed to do that, reacts like an adult should react to that situation. I believe she also writes him some kind of love note or draws him a picture. For the record I’ve only seen this movie twice and I’m never watching it again so the best you’ll get from me is memories.
Klara gets upset that she was yelled at by Lucas because she’s 5 (or around that age) and comes up with a story about how he kissed/touched her and tells the teacher. Which as you may have guessed is blown entirely out of proportion. The teacher instantly brands him as some kind of molester and pervert. The police are called. Klara is led into saying that Lucas did a lot of shit to her that he didn’t do. Other kids are questioned and start accusing Lucas as well. This is based on a trust story, by the way, and the entire reason why there is a totally different method of questioning kids about molestation now.
The whole time, Lucas doesn’t know why the hell he’s being accused of anything but is unable to clear his name. This happens in a small town so basically everyone knows he did it. He loses his job, and is shunned. Things start to get worse. They kill his dog and they go after his son. His girlfriend questions whether he’s a perv or not and he kicks her out of there. There’s even a really fucked up scene where he’s just trying to get groceries and everyone turns on him and he gets his ass kicked. Though he does actually finally start to retaliate in that scene. Klara tries to tell her mom that she made it all up and it’s not what they think it is. Her mother tells her that she’s just “scared” because Lucas is in trouble now but it’s the right thing, except Klara is telling the truth. The adults don’t care to listen.
More time passes and Lucas is breaking down more and more. In a really heartbreaking church scene he has to attend Christmas services alone. His friends won’t talk to him, even his best friend won’t believe him. He has a breakdown at the church and is thrown out. I mean, seriously, if you were ever questioning why people love Mads Mikkelsen as an actor that scene alone will rip your soul out and take a shit all over it. Eventually, Klara’s father comes around and people start to believe him, only after he’s exonerated for everything. Just when you think things are going okay, on a hunting trip someone takes a shot at him. That’s how the movie ends. The shot doesn’t actually hit him, but pretty much it’s to signify that though everyone is acting okay around him, they really aren’t and he needs to watch his back.
This movie is such a fucking nightmarish and realistic journey of a man falsely accused of molesting a kid and what happens after that point. No one cares about the truth. No one cares what he has to say. It’s all based on a classroom of preschool kids, their parents pushing a narrative, and the teachers furthering the story. Lucas is 100% innocent of everything and no matter what he does, he can’t get anyone to believe it. It’s basically like watching an episode of SVU where you know the guy is innocent within the first five minutes but he keeps getting shat on the entire time. The acting from the entire cast is just brilliant. The cinematography and editing, everything combined tells one of the most perfect and horrible stories ever. Though this may not be horror in the way that it is classically defined this is the type of horror that men falsely accused of such crimes have to face. No one portrays it better than Mads Mikkelsen. Watch the movie, at least once, you’ll be glad you did.