Director – Darrell Roodt
Cast – Bridgett Moynahan, Peter Weller, Carly Schoeder, Donner Dowds, Jamie Bartlett
Release Year – 2007
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This film uses a unique protagonist that we do not see in too many horror films…lions. The Michael Douglass/Val Kilmer film “The Ghost and The Darkness” effectively portrayed lions as protagonists and since the 1996 film we have not seen many other than this film. Both of these films claim to be “inspired by true events”, which does tend to be more believable than the “haunted house” films we get given that lions are carnivores and have been documented as man-eaters for centuries.
Prey stars Peter Weller, who is most known for his roles as “Robocop” in the first two Robocop films, as a wealthy man named Tom who brings his family to the African Sahara to sightsee as he works on business. While he is out working his new wife(he is remarried) Amy, his bratty daughter Jessica, and his young son David go on a sightseeing trip to a game reserve with one of the local rangers. The ranger decides to stray from the main road and do some offroading for the kids which makes David need to take a crap. While he is out crapping a lion charges toward him and although he escapes back to the vehicle, the lion kills the ranger who not only could not connect on any of his rifle shots, but also has the keys still on him and is being dragged away by the lion. Amy, Jessica, and David must now wait for help to arrive and hope that the lions surrounding the vehicle do not get inside. But how long will it take for anyone to notice they are missing, and will they even find them in the vast area they wandered off to?
This film is one of those that really had some promise and was directed pretty well, but is just a bit too one-dimensional to be a great film. I was really surprised to see such great use of the lions during the attack scenes. Many times we are either given some lame CGI or animatronics for these types of scenes involving dangerous animals but it was quite obvious that these were real lions used during the kills. The cinematography is great as well, and really captures the vast openness of the Sahara and lets the viewer realize just how screwed our stranded characters are. The pacing of this film is pretty good, and does not drag all that much. Every time it got a little too fishy that there hadn’t been any lion-kill action we were given some sort of lion attack, and to my surprise…they were pretty gory! Gore as sweet as these lion kills usually does not make it into these low budget, hardly recognized films and I’m glad that director Darrell Roodt defied that notion.
Unfortunately for this film, at the film’s climax you are left thinking that this could have given you so much more. One reason for this would have to of course be the film’s limited amount of characters. For the majority of the film it is just Amy, Jessica, and David trapped in the vehicle with Tom going about different ways to try and find his family. I was honestly expecting for more people to find Tom’s family yet unfortunately die at the hands of the lions but that just did not happen. The French film “Inside” perfectly portrays that notion given that it only has two main characters, yet we literally see buckets of blood spilled when unsuspecting visitors show up. Hehe. Speaking of this film’s characters…the writers of the film really messed up with the use of the clichéd “badass mysterious renegade who after much persuasion finally offers to help” character named Crawford. So much foreshadowing was used involving his character being introduced to the plot of the film, yet I felt his character was not used enough and really added little to the film other than to fill up runtime.
Overall, this is a decent film that should only be viewed if you can’t find anything better or need to pass some time.