Review: 'Prey'


The new import from IFC On Demand is called Prey, and it's about a thoroughly obnoxious upper-crust French family that gets attacked and devoured by a giant, mutated boar.

As such, it's a very entertaining film. But the flick has some problems too.

We start off with a vibe that feels a lot like the one found in the "Father's Day" vignette from Creepshow: a bunch of smug bastards who have a family fortune but no class or regard for one another who are gathered together on the family estate. And then the menfolk find a bunch of mangled animals out behind the shed. So far, so good. A hunting party is formed, the two unpleasant ladies stay back at the house, and off we head into a sticky wilderness filled with ravenous pigs and snippy Frenchmen.

But then Prey (aka Proie) sort of becomes way too conventional for its own good. Imagine Jonathan King's admirably goofy Black Sheep from a few years back, only (for some reason) you've stripped away all the humor of that film and replaced it with angry French arguments. What made Black Sheep (and Tremors and Eight Legged Freaks, yes I said it) so much fun was that it poked and teased the obvious conventions of the "animals run amok!" sub-genre. Without that wit, or some new sense of style or narrative point, you're left with a flick like Prey: certainly not terrible, but pretty darn familiar.

Of course it turns out that the hateful clan is directly responsible for their own porcine problems (they used experimental fertilizer on their ranch, wouldn't you just know it?), and of course the "Prey" of the title turns out to (sorta) indicate that man is way more malicious than ANY nasty ol' genetically mutated pig, and doubly so if they happen to be a member of smug, nasty French family that dabbles in experimental fertilizers. And, since I'm having fun with broad (dumb) stereotypes, of course this French import looks a whole lot slicker and more stylish than a Giant Pig movie needs to be.

But still ... I've always had a big place in my heart for this sort of horror flick: the "environmentally-ironic" histrionics of Day of the Animals, Piranha, Alligator, Grizzly, and (well, duh) the original Jaws. First-time filmmakers Erich Vogel and Antoine Blossier seem to borrow the biggest page from Russell Mulcahy's underrated Aussie import Razorback, The big pigs don't actually get as much screen time as one might like, but Blossier finds a few cool ways to use his camera to deliver a jump, jolt, or misdirect. Plus there are a few sequences that are slightly-but-admirably intense, as well as more than passably gory.

Look, it's a killer pig flick, shot well but written on a very basic level. It's generic in some spots, obvious in others, and then it's nasty, creepy, or chompy in others. You already knew when you heard "killer pig" if you were interested. I can say that Prey is at least amusing enough to warrant its 91 minutes. But no, there's nothing here you haven't seen before.