Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Prowl – review

Director: Patrik Syverson

Release date: 2010

Contains spoilers

Prowl was one that I thought… hmmm… likely to be pants. Perhaps that lack of expectation did the film a favour because, you know what, I really enjoyed it. Okay there were a couple of plot issues and the twist was hardly a twist given the great big honking clues we get from the very beginning but, I really did like this one. It was quite shocking to find out that it was, whilst set in the US, primarily a UK/Bulgarian production and that many of the young actors were British.

Amber running is a constant motif
The film begins with a girl, Amber (Courtney Hope), running. She runs through a field and then the film setting twists and she runs, pursued, through woods. She falls, is grabbed and ends up in a mud puddle. Then we see meat and we realise that she is working in a butchers and the moment we have seen was a daydream. After work she leaves a message with someone called Dustin – she is after an apartment in Chicago. Then her friend Suzy (Ruta Gedmintas) calls about a party being hosted by a mutual friend called Ray (Jamie Blackley).

Eric and Amber
Suzy wants Amber to ‘protect’ her from casual shag Peter (Joshua Bowman). But first there is the question of beer. Amber turns up at the liquor store, followed by Peter and Suzy. None of them can buy beer (Amber is 18, Peter just under 21). Dorky, young looking Eric (Oliver Hawes) comes in and is old enough to buy beer. We hear that Amber has run to the store, managing to beat Peter there, who was driving. They refer to her as Speedy Gonzales. They get to Ray’s house, where Ray and his girlfriend Fiona (Perdita Weeks) are happily getting stoned. Suzy ends up with Peter again and Eric tries to kiss Amber but is blown out.

halucinated splatter
Amber gets home and her mom (Laurel Lefkow) is drunk, she says something in her stupor that reveals to Amber that she is adopted. During the night Amber dreams of a creature with sharp teeth and wakes suddenly. The next day, at work, she is putting a bag of meat by-products in a dumpster when her face is splattered with gunk. Looking in the dumpster she sees body parts… a co-worker calls her and they have vanished. Amber is clearly having hallucinations. Okay, she runs really fast, doesn’t feel like she fits, was adopted, hallucinates about body parts and dreams of creatures with sharp teeth… can you guess the 'twist' yet?

Bernard checks their engine
Dustin is letting the apartment go to another tenant. Amber persuades him to hold it for a finite amount of time but she has to get to Chicago with the deposit. Sounds like an excuse for a road trip to me. After failing to get a driver with a car, she ends up with Eric driving and the rest of the gang coming along. They get past the Famfield town sign and break down. As it happens a truck comes along driven by Bernard (Bruce Payne, Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire, Tales from the Crypt & Howling 6: the freaks). They persuade him to give them a ride with the caveats that one of them (Eric) rides up front and they send a picture of the truck to friends as insurance.

the door opens
In the back of the truck they are partying hard until the truck starts swerving around. They begin to freak out and call Eric’s phone but Bernard answers – saying that Eric is asleep. He refuses to pull over. They fail to get any signal after the conversation with Bernard (and one near 911 conversation) thus they cannot call for help - but we’ll try to ignore that plot contrivance. They do discover that the boxes being carried contain blood. They hear the truck back up and then the truck door opens into an abandoned building, which Ray recognises as having been a slaughterhouse…

And then the vampires come and it is quick, and bloody and brutal. I don’t want to spoil any more but, as always, I want to look at the lore. We don’t get much to be honest. The vampires look like they have stalked out of the 30 days of Night series. They are primarily (but not exclusively) male. They are a separate species apparently. We hear that birth for them is violent – either the mother or the baby dies. The ones in the warehouse are orphans.

drinking from a blood pack
They are there under the tutelage of Veronica (Saxon Trainor), who gets little screen time but is coldly efficient and plays a great role for the screen time she has. The place is where she teaches them to hunt. Normally junkies are brought, Bernard has screwed up by bringing young, fit people. They do drink from blood packs as well as fresh blood – hence the cargo (there is a complaint that he hadn’t bothered refrigerating the load).

The black eyes and row of teeth are a feeding/hunting affectation – they can pass for human. We see one stabbed in the eye and carry on, proving they are tough. They can leap far, scale walls and float/fly (apparently). Fire certainly harms them, if not outright kills them. They are also very strong – 'ripping a head from the body' strong.

the pack
This was fun, what can I say. Yes I knew what the twist was going to be – and I am sure you do to. Whilst moments such as the kids being ten minutes out of town when they break down and immediately jumping in a strange truck or the unfortunate inability to ring 911 when in peril (especially when the failing phone signal suddenly is working again, as Veronica makes a call from one of the gang’s mobiles and randomly picks Amber’s number first time, thus making her phone ring whilst she is hiding), were more than a little hokey – but it didn’t matter. For a start off all the actors seemed natural, the dialogue worked and Courtney Hope, as the primary actor, carried the film with aplomb. Bruce Payne offered a tight little performance, as one would expect.

The film struggled to find an ending – not helped by the fact that the twist wasn’t a shock. However the vampires were brutal, animalistic – but also we saw that they were capable of rational thought. There was blood, body parts and all in all I can’t fault the film as it delivered the very goods that it was meant to.

Great cinema? No. Good fun? Absolutely. 6.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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