Prey Poster

Prey (2024) Review

Prey is not to be confused with the Predator film of the same name, Dick Maas’s lion loose in Amsterdam thriller, the 2007 film about a family of tourists stalked by lions or any of the seemingly endless list of action films and slashers bearing that title. This Prey is about a pair of American missionaries Andrew (Ryan Phillippe, Wish Upon, Cruel Intentions) and Sue (Mena Suvari, The Accursed, American Pie) living in a village somewhere in Africa.

Andrew is already having a bad day. He’s a doctor and had a young boy die on the operating table because the medical supplies they were expecting hadn’t arrived on time. It gets worse when he’s told he and Sue need to make a fast exit, Boko Haram soldiers are heading towards the village.

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Elsewhere, Grun (Emile Hirsch, Son, The Darkest Hour) is about to fly Tyler (Dylan Flashner, Asking For It, Hot Seat), his friends Max (Tristan Thompson, The Tutor, Mending the Line) and Chrissy (Michaela Sasner, Deltopis, Natural Disasters) and their guide Thabo (Jeremy Tardy, Bone Tomahawk, Voodoo Macbeth) out of the area. Desperate to avoid capture, they catch a ride on the plane, even though it looks anything but safe. And it isn’t. The plane crashes in the wildlife preserve in the Kalahari Desert, the film’s original title was Kalahari. A preserve full of lions, leopards, hyena, etc., forcing the survivors to deal with both the extremists and hungry predators.

Writer/director Mukunda Michael Dewil (The Immaculate Room, Vehicle 19) quickly splits the survivors into two groups for no real reason except to kill time, cutting back and forth between the two groups. And, coincidentally enough, to have the camera somewhere else when the first lion attack happens. That’s not a good omen.

And indeed it isn’t as very little happens until another off-screen lion attack, we at least get to hear this one, and a snakebite. Mostly we get scenes of people wandering around and lots of talk, leading to the unsurprising revelation that Hirsch’s character is the reason the medical supplies never made it to the village, he was too busy smuggling ivory to make the delivery.

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Unfortunately, very few of the characters in Prey are likeable, and they also tend to be the first to die. Even our erstwhile hero keeps lapsing into a sullen state, having apparently lost all faith in God and His mysterious ways. By the time the extremist army, all three of them, show up, I was ready for them to just kill everyone and end my suffering.

Unfortunately we still have half an hour of clichés such as not tieing up prisoners, people falling asleep at the wrong time, stray bullets that are more effective than aimed ones and the man of peace forced to take lives instead of saving them, before it’s over.

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When I’d read the Prey used real lions rather than CGI, I was expecting at least some trained animal vs stuntman scenes. Instead, all the animal attacks are off-screen and the big cats themselves are stock footage. Apart from a snake and a scorpion, no animals actually appear in the same scene as any of the actors. Yes, it’s an animal attack film with no animal attacks.

The result is a film that redefines boring, disappointing and underwhelming. Even the ending is a dud, with no actual final confrontation. With two of the characters being missionaries, I was expecting a Christians vs lions confrontation at some point. Instead, the film limps along to an ending that could charitably be called anticlimactic. It’s fitting that The Barnum Picture Company was involved in the making of Prey, because the producers must have there’s a sucker born every minute, and that was their target audience.

Prey is currently in select theatres, as well as available on Digital and VOD Platforms via Vertical Entertainment.

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