Movie review: Prey

On DVD and VOD

“Prey,” written by Antoine Blossier and Erich Vogel, directed by Blossier, 80 minutes, unrated.

Within the first five minutes of “Prey,” you know that French filmmaker Antoine Blossier isn’t going to spare you the gory details as he introduces us to a grisly scene of bloodied deer corpses strung up on electrical fencing, in a futile attempt to escape a predator.

Finding an oversized boar’s tooth embedded in one of the deer, a farmer (Fred Ulysse) and his family (already at odds) take up arms and head into the forest to hunt the beast.

Four guys, guns and loads of tension seems like a losing formula to me.

Nathan (Gregoire Colin) is rattled over his controlling father-in-law, Nicolas (Francois Levantal), and there’s an air of jealousy between Nicolas and his brother, David, as they enter into the woods. The further from civilization the four get, the more they drop the formalities and show their true colors.

But their quarrels are only half of the hunting party’s problem, as they soon discover they’re not up against one over-sized boar, but potentially dozens.

It sounds ridiculous, right? And sometimes it is. But Blossier, in his feature debut, makes you forget that, at its core, “Prey” should be nothing more than a B-movie. For a first-time filmmaker, Blossier shows that he’s already well-versed in the art of creating tension — something that so many modern horror filmmakers lack.

“Prey” has a way of getting under your skin. Whether it’s the incessant squealing of boars, the horrific images of wounded animals and humans, or the mystery of what lies underneath all the swaying tall grass, the movie will make you uneasy.

If there’s one place where Blossier stumbles, it’s in his inability to liven-up an otherwise two-dimensional story, or furthermore, to develop his characters. Although the genetically-enhanced pigs are the movie’s surface monsters, the director attempts to make “Prey” a study of human nature. He fails. The family is made up of hackneyed characters, one of the many areas the filmmaker sacrifices to maintain the movie’s pace.

When faced with two roads, “Prey” always takes the beaten path. It substitutes genuine emotion for gun play and leans on cliches, sucking any sign originality out of the film.

Despite its many flaws, “Prey” is a successful audition tape for its director to wrangle Hollywood’s attention. Mark my words, someday a major studio will hand Antoine Blossier a lot of money to make a fast-paced, stylish horror film, and suddenly he’ll be the next Nimrod Antal (“Vacancy”) or Neil Marshall (“The Descent”).

It’s a strong debut, but that doesn’t make “Prey” a great movie. Still, Keep an eye out for Blossier in the future.

Grade: C+

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