Prowl (2011)

Directed By: Patrik Syversen
Written By: Tim Tori
Starring: Courtney Hope
  Ruta Gedmintas
  Joshua Bowman
  Bruce Payne

Prowl is surprisingly good. The story is solid, the direction decent, the script great and the acting excellent. There are a number of awkward moments and it crumbles into absurdity towards the end, but the strong cast hold it together throughout. Enjoyable, original and always interesting. Well worth a watch.

Amber (Courtney Hope) has had enough of living in the small town of Famfield. Her father is dead, her mother a dismissive drunk and she despises her job. Plagued by the occasional nightmarish flash of violence and blood and sprinting through a field, she realizes she has to escape Famfield or be trapped there forever. Her plan is to move to Chicago, but getting to the windy city proves difficult.

Enlisting the help of her good friends, they clamber into a van and leave Famfield… and promptly breakdown on the outskirts of town. Desperate to escape, Amber flags down a large articulated lorry and Bernard the trucker (Bruce Payne) admits he’s heading to Chicago. The six friends persuade Bernard to transport them to the city and they climb into the back of the lorry. But all is not what it seems…

As the lorry heads into the countryside and Bernard’s cargo is revealed to be something very disturbing, they realize they’re not going to Chicago anymore. When the lorry stops and backs into an abandoned abattoir, the six friends are promptly dumped into a hunting ground for… something. A lot of somethings.

Perhaps the most surprisingly thing about Prowl is that the murderous creatures are not revealed for at least thirty minutes – concentrating on character and build-up instead – and although this might deter blood-every-second splatterfest obsessives, it still remains utterly compelling.

What Prowl does most effectively is create believable, likeable characters. Despite dutifully ticking off the cliché list for character-types – the stoner couple, the jock, the beautiful best friend, the geek and the strong-minded heroine – they are written and acted so well they feel refreshingly original and genuinely likeable.

Courtney Hope and Ruta Gedmintas are especially compelling as Amber and Suzy, who hold the film as the convincing best friends. Gedmintas provides a surprisingly fallible character who happily admits her mistakes – and you like her more because of it – and Hope does fantastic work as our troubled protagonist; she is believable throughout. Even the truck driver is played superbly by Bruce Payne, who presents Bernard as a likeable, suspicious gentleman before revealing he’s actually something entirely different. Prowl is filled with pitch-perfect performances.

Patrik Syversen’s direction is solid throughout; fluid, exciting and punctuated with some decent scares. It is Tim Tori’s script that really makes an impact, with excellent characterization and a genuinely original concept. Sadly the concept is a little too far-fetched and will baffled many people, especially towards the end as it descends into some truly unexpected realms. On hindsight, you can see what they were trying to achieve, but it doesn’t quite work. This – however – does not spoil the film. It is effective, exciting and well crafted throughout.

Prowl is one of the After Dark Originals, which recently played at Empire Cinemas across the UK, alongside Husk. Prowl is the second one of the “eight films to die for” that Gorepress has had the pleasure to see and proves that whatever they’re doing, they’re doing it right, especially on the “originals” front. Prowl is certainly unique.

Overall Prowl is definitely worth watching; the script is great and the acting is superb. The plot goes from thrilling to awkwardly bonkers, but it is genuinely compelling throughout and will give faith back to the naysayers who claim horror has lost its originality. Prowl is a refreshing, brutal, nasty, enjoyable piece of work.

Rating: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

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