Lars von Trier would probably be the first to tell you that beneath the well-mannered, cultured façade of Denmark, or anywhere for that matter, lurks the barbarity of the Dark Ages. It can be seen in the sodden, tribal bonding rites of a bunch of hunting buddies in “The Hunt,” fellow Dane and Dogme 95 cofounder Thomas Vinterberg’s harrowing but flawed study of an innocent man accused of pedophilia. The bearded, drunken men of a hunting party, bellowing and skinny-dipping, enact a bibulous macho ritual. It’s a scene that could have happened 1,000 years ago, or might be an outtake from “Grown Ups 2.”
As with his 1998 Dogme 95 melodrama, “The Celebration,” Vinterberg focuses his new film on the pathology that underlies respectability. In the earlier effort his subject was a single clan, the events taking place at one location over a compressed period of time, the style adhering to the no-frills “vow of chastity” of the Dogme manifesto. But here he takes on an entire community; and with the broader context, Vinterberg has grown more schematic, and the story becomes less plausible.