Welcome back as we continue our coverage of the 2018 Toronto After Dark Film Festival. Now in it’s 13th year, there is a plethora of horror and genre films at this year’s fest. So far we’ve seen spirits, zombies and young serial killers. You know what’s missing? A man-eating lion. Thankfully someone at After Dark agrees and has programed the Dutch film, PREY, playing tonight at 7PM.
Directed by Dick Mass, Prey has been referred to as “JAWS meets PAWS“. A zoo veterinarian, Lizzy, goes on a grisly adventure as she aids local law enforcement in hunting a lion on the loose in Amsterdam. The beast has tasted human flesh and it’s appetite is now voracious for it. It’s her job to help find this predator and stop it before the pile of bodies (or what’s left them) gets too high.
There is only one word to describe this movie: schlock. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. While it’s nowhere near as schlocky as Sharknado or Piranha 3D, Prey would definitely feel right at home on a SYFY Saturday night. It’s never quite clear where the lion comes from and to be honest, it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is that an unstoppable lion is ripping folks apart. And rip them apart it does. But for all its grotesque imagery with pieces of bodies strewn about, the movie edits around the kills in a way that wears its budget on its sleeve. This is made all the more telling during extended scenes involving the lion in the third act. It may look a little cheap but that’s part of its charm. In fact, that might be all of its charm.
The main problem with this movie is that it can’t decided what it wants to be. Is it a schlocky horror comedy or a dramatic character piece? The supporting cast and some of the principles appear to be in the former. Lizzy (played by Sophie van Winden) and police detective Brinkers (Reins Krul) think they’re in the latter. It becomes most problematic when they all share scenes together. Two different energies are present, each trying to lead the tone of the film. It’s hard to invest in this movie when the flow of the piece is so disjointed.
Prey also makes the mistake of building their plot around Lizzy’s love life. Her current boyfriend, Dave (Julian Looman), is a cable news cameraman who has trouble being faithful. Her ex-boyfriend, Jack (Mark Frost) is a one-legged lion hunter with a flare for the dramatic. Both men are cliches and neither seem right for Lizzy, a levelheaded person who wouldn’t be stupid enough to date either of them. There’s no way she’d waste her time on these bozos. A lack of chemistry with both suitors causes the plot to drag throughout the movie. If the relationships were ejected and the plot instead focused on Lizzy’s expertise, there might be more to this movie.
If you’re looking for big, schlocky fun, Prey might be the film for you. If you want a movie that seriously examines the man-vs-beast dynamic, you might want to skip this one. Sophie van Winden gives a great performance but it’s a bit too good for this film. You can catch Prey at 7PM tonight at the Scotiabank Theatre. Get your tickets HERE! And keep checking back for more coverage of TADFF18!
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!