‘Prey’ – Cookie-Cutter Thriller
In a world where entertainment is pumping out faster than we can keep up with, it’s difficult to wow everyone. This German film directed by Thomas Sieben lacked overall development. ‘Prey’ holds little twists and turns and a predictable plot, turning repetitive and left nothing unexpected. When five friends enter a forest for a hike, it turns sour when they are repeatedly shot at and now must run from a mystery shooter. In any survivor film, it is expected that not all will make it and that there will be a final face-off with the shooter. It delivered on that, but there was nothing left to offer. Rather than a rollercoaster of a film, it turned to a flat road of playing hide and seek. Since most viewers are desensitized to violence, it wasn’t a shocking watch to see characters get injured and shot at. Though there were a lot of moments that could have been used to withhold information from viewers, it was simply used poorly and in a confusing matter rather than enhancing the suspense.
Having the concept of not knowing why something is happening to a group of people makes the thrill more intense with the feeling that no one is safe, but there is an unrealistic sense that an entire forest is unsafe because of one person. There was almost an old slasher technique used with the slow-moving killer with zero emotions. It is acceptable in a horror film, but in this case, it was a human against five other humans in the woods. It was less frustrating yelling at the screen of watching Michael Myers slowly walk while victims ran than this murderer moving with a rifle.
Reaches for Heart, But Flatlines
Since the cast was so small because of the scenario that they were in, there is always a large opportunity to learn about them and their lives. Unfortunately, the lead David Kross was little to offer because of the lack of knowledge he was given about his character. There were only the facts that he was getting married and he wanted to work with his older brother, Hanno Koffler, at his company who was also on the hiking trip. Their chemistry on screen was unnatural and the first fifteen minutes had me confused about what their relationship was.
The tension between the brothers on screen was the “conflict” other than the main plotline of getting chased by a murderer. When characters are in danger, the audience must be attached to them in over to care if they get hurt or not, but frankly, there were no characters that gave viewers a chance to connect with them. To get out of the forest setting, there were flashbacks of Kross and his fiance, Livia Matthes, to show their love, but it wasn’t anything special or plot-changing about them. It can be risky putting flashbacks in any film because it shows there’s no present way to explain the past, but they very well could have been in this case.
The small details of the film could have been much more clear. For example, there was a lot of talk about Koffler’s company, but there was no mention of a name or even clue of what it could be. This leads the audience to not believing in it because there is nothing relatable about a vague company. The fact that his fiance worked under his brother as a graphic artist also made it confusing and that he was fighting to get a job for himself. It created a lot of plotholes and could easily be fixed if something was made up about the “company”.
Every film has the potential to be something new and different, even if the initial concept has been explored. For example, it seems like every superhero has been made under the sun, but somehow more and more heroes and their stories are being made. The most important factor is that people are excited about them and will see them even though it’s the same thing. It’s the job of the writer and director to do the work and make sure it is the same, but slightly different. In the case of Netflix’s ‘Prey’, it is a hiking thriller that doesn’t try anything unique to make it exciting for viewers who have seen it all.
There were two big reveals in this film that if they were given a few more rewrites, could have really impacted the audience in a much stronger fashion. The shooter themselves had a very unique reason as to why they were doing this to a group of strangers, but it was a coincidence of how Kross’s character found out about it. There was also potential because though the character killer character, Maria Ehrich, was shown halfway through the film, they did not speak any words for the remainder of the film. It again led to the feeling of being in a slasher film, though they had a very unique back story that could have had an emotional impact.
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An overall disappointment after watching Netflix’s new release of ‘Prey’. It is difficult to make films that don’t shock audiences anymore, making it a boring watch for cinephiles. Though they can’t go back in time and fix what was already done if they took the time to polish parts and find the real heart of the film then it could have been a different story. There are always good things about any film made, so to end on a good note; the strive to speak on gun control is positive and reinforces the dangers of owning a weapon.
Where to Watch:
‘Prey’ can be streamed on Netflix.
Actors: David Kross | Hanno Koffler | Maria Ehrich | Robert Finster | Yung Ngo | Livia Matthes
Director: Thomas Sieben | Writer: Thomas Sieben | Producers: Michael Friedl, Alexandra Meggle, and Barbara Mientus
By Jack Colin
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Jack Colin is a playwright and screenwriter with an immense love for film & television which drives him to learn from and share his passion with anyone willing to listen. Living life as a trans man, Jack wants his writing to create a safe space for LGBTQ+ members and share the positive stories that are so often ignored through his work at The Hollywood Insider, he is eager to give readers a confident outlook on life. The storytellers of the world are the ones who decide what happiness can be. Jack takes pride in The Hollywood Insider’s mission statement to stray away from gossip and to lift up voices in entertainment with supportive and meaningful stories that will promote strength and unity.