Like many a horror flick (and I do mean “many”), the recent indie offering from After Dark Originals known as Prowl needs a viable reason to get a group of young adults out onto a deserted highway, so get this:
The flick actually spends 8 or 9 minutes explaining, with a small but obvious sense of intelligence, why our lead gal wants to get out of her dead-end flyspeck of a hometown so darn bad, which leads to some adequately colorful character introductions, and those lead to the setting: a broken-down truck in the middle of nowhere: six slightly compelling characters who (very unwisely) accept a ride from a seemingly helpful trucker, end up kidnapped and dropped into a slaughterhouse, and left as gaming fodder for young vampires in training.
Even if you think the plot synopsis I just covered sounds slightly intriguing, you’d probably be shocked to learn that the flick as a whole is actually pretty darn watchable. Both in an “all things being relative in the After Dark canon” sort of way, but also in a “straight-faced, gritty, and quietly satisfying little horror movie in its own right” way as well. A few missteps here and some slow spots there, but there’s certainly a bit of fun to be found here.
One big asset in the corner of director Patrick Syversen is lead actress Courtney Hope as the unhappy yet empathetic Amber. Neither the character nor her plight is all that unique, but the newcomer (who, fine, is also very pretty) brings a small yet welcome sense of weight to the role. If the mid-section of Prowl is some basic stalk-and-skewer fare (and it is), and most of Act III is a collection of chases, escapes, and not-very-shocking revelations, then at least we’re dealing with a horror flick that A) has an interesting leading lady, B) moves fast and ends before its 78th minute, and C) actually looks pretty cool. (Syversen’s previous flick was the admirably ‘70s-ish Manhunt, also known as Rovdyr) Those who always scan the horror flicks for at least one familiar name will be pleased to note that Mr. Bruce Payne (Warlock 3, Howling 4, Passenger 57) is on hand as the blatantly untrustworthy truck driver.
Essentially a mash-up of the “isolation stalker” concept and a “night of the hungry vampires” pitch, Prowl is clearly nobody’s idea of a stunningly unique story, but as far as this sort of stuff goes, there’s just enough craftsmanship and consistency to make this one of the “After Dark Originals” worth looking for.