Prey (2006)

DVD Cover (The Weinstein Company)
Darrell Roodt Darrell Roodt
Bridget Moynahan Bridget Moynahan
Peter Weller Peter Weller
Carly Schroeder Carly Schroeder
Jamie Bartlett Jamie Bartlett
Connor Dowds Connor Dowds

4.7 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres / Traits: Horror, Natural Horror, Thriller, Big Cats
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Review by Chad
Added: July 20, 2007
Boy, have I got a story for you readers today, and unbelievably, it's sort of related to the film at hand. This morning, I woke up to find a huge beast attacking me, stabbing me with it's sword-like appendage. I had already lost a couple gallons of blood by this point, but I bravely stood my ground and fought back. Eventually, I slew this cursed beast and realized that I'd live to tell about it.

Alright, so I embellished the story a little bit, but just like the movie I survived to review, my tale was actually inspired by true events - I woke up to find a mosquito sucking away at my blood. It sure is nice to make up shit and slap an inspired by true events label on it, isn't it?

So, what is this movie about? Well, take Cujo, swap out the dog for a bunch of lions, trade in Mrs. Dee Wallace Stone and her irritating on-screen kid for three of the dumbest and most annoying characters you're ever likely to see, and finally, set the whole wretched abomination in Africa instead of Maine: there, you have the little film known as Prey. It all begins when father Tom Newman (Peter Weller) sends his two kids - Jessica (Carly Schroeder) and David (Conner Dowds) - out into the wilds of Africa with a travel guide and their brand new stepmother Amy (Bridget Moynahan) for a little bit of animal sightseeing. The travel guide decides to drive off of the beaten path, the little brat has to take a shit, the guide ends up dead courtesy of a lion mauling (the keys are left with him, of course), and the surviving threesome find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere with a pack of lions hungry for their flesh.

Cujo worked for me because it believably (and more importantly, gradually) built up the scenario, got us watching at home well-acquainted with the characters, built up the threat of the vicious dog, and finally, gave us about twenty minutes of terror when the car finally broke down in the dog's vicinity. Here, the characters are built up by way of the writers borrowing something from damned near every page of the "clichéd storylines for dummies" guide and thrown into the middle of nowhere within the opening ten minutes. Now, I realize that today's audiences aren't huge fans of slow-building stories, but there's only so much that can be done with a movie when the characters have to sit inside a car for ninety minutes, and considering that the cast members couldn't handle a minor role in the latest teen comedy - nonetheless a "stare at and talk to the camera for the majority of the film" starring role - it should go without saying that this was painful to sit through.

Maybe I shouldn't be so harsh on the actors found in here; after all, the writing was atrocious, so to expect miracles from these people is reaching a little. The only exception to this is Bridget Moynahan, who plays the typical "I know I'm not your real mother, but dammit, I'm trying to be there for you!" stepmother role in what could barely be considered as going through the motions when it comes right down to it. She has all the authenticity of a dirty mop, and I found myself wishing that she would get devoured by the lions before the car had even been parked.

The kids were... well, they were kids, and while I think that Carly Schroeder may have some potential based on how she handled this role, the character that she was given had me wishing that she'd be killed off even before her stepmother was. She plays the typical "You're not my real mom, you're taking my dad away from me, I hate you!" bratty teenager role, and although she did do an adequate job with it, there's just no denying that this character was not suited for this movie. Watching the two ladies sit in a car and bicker about something as trivial as Jessica putting her feet on the seat while a bunch of hungry lions circle the car just didn't do anything for me, but your opinion may vary.

On the positive side, the opening attack sequence was extremely well done, and I enjoyed the fact that they used real lions for the vast majority of the film (there are a few animatronics, but save for one scene, you can't spot them unless you know what you're looking for). The African setting looked gorgeous on camera and there were two or three scenes featuring some great gore, but when all was said and done, three things stuck out and ruined the movie for me. Those three things were horrible writing, awful characters, and lackluster acting. The perks were nice, but overall, the negatives simply killed my enjoyment and left me disgusted that this disc had actually touched my DVD player. 2/10.
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