Updated: Nov 15, 2019
Director: Franck Khalfoun
Writers: David Coggeshall, Franck Khalfoun
Starring: Logan Miller, Kristine Froseth, Jolene Anderson, Jerrica Lai & Anthony Jensen.
As you may have noticed, Lee recently reviewed Sweetheart, a Blumhouse Pictures production set on a desert island with a creature that is lurking nearby. He’d barely posted that review when I sat down to watch Prey. A Blumhouse Pictures production set on a desert island with a creature that is lurking nearby.
Despite the similarity of the title settings (and the fact I could just copy and paste the sentences above) both movies are very different so there should be no problem just yet with Blumhouse being labelled as being, “Those guys who release the desert island flicks.” Although Blumhouse have just released a trailer for a movie called Fantasy Island, which you’ve guessed it; it’s set on a desert island.
So, what makes Prey stand out from this sudden plethora of island-based shenanigans?
The film opens with Toby (Logan Miller) doing that typical teenage thing of spending his time being “busy” watching pointless crap on his phone. This means that instead of help his dad, David (Anthony Jensen), work on the car, Toby would rather sprawl on the sofa and watch internet videos. Rather than spend his browsing time more wisely by reading a review on this site and learning about the dangers inherent with being a horror movie protagonist, he fritters away his time watching random nonsense.
Outside, Toby’s dad runs afoul of some car thieves who stab him and drive off in their newly acquired vehicle, leaving David to bleed to death on the front-drive.
Racked with guilt over the death of his father, Toby joins the Lost & Found Program. The goal of the program is to help people come to terms with personal tragedy/issues by providing them with survival equipment and dropping them off on an uninhabited island for 3 days. It’s a form of counselling whereby the person can take time to explore, reflect on their lives and try to get things into perspective a bit.
The notion of being left on a beautiful deserted island for a few days certainly sounds idyllic, but unfortunately for Toby, he seems to be the unluckiest human being alive. For example; on the boat ride over he gets seasick and gets hit in the head by the boom & knocked overboard. Heedless of whether the blow to the head caused him any concussion, event organiser Kay (Jerrica Lai) leaves Toby on the island for him to find that his bad luck continues as whilst collecting firewood, monkeys raid his food supplies, and then he injures himself when trying to light the fire before then losing his flint.
How he’s made it into his late teens, I’ll never know because this dude doesn’t seem to be able to get a break.
He can’t even use a signal flare without screwing up so help isn’t coming and there appears to be something else on the island; something large with horns.
Luckily there is one stroke of good luck on the island for Toby as he wakes up one morning to find that someone has left him a small supply of coconuts they have very kindly cut open ready for him, presumably because they know what a fuck-up he is and that if he tried, he would somehow accidentally cut off his own hand.
Looking around, Toby spots his saviour nearby in the form of an attractive girl called Madeline (Kristine Froseth) who not only provides Toby with food but also, shelter too.
Madeline apparently lives nearby and tells Toby that the only other person on the island is her mother (Jolene Anderson) and that Toby should keep away from her mother at all costs. The fact that the entrance to Madeline’s home is surrounded by skulls on sticks should be reason enough to keep away from whatever is going on with her mum.
Considering that the film is about two older teenagers stuck on an island, the movie never went down the Blue Lagoon route, which could quite easily have happened. Sure there was always the threat of Madeline’s mysterious and possibly murderous mother, but from what I remember about being a horny teenager, I’m surprised that Toby didn’t spend most of his time trying to make a move or at least awkwardly hunched over attempting to hide an unexpected boner. Omnipresent psychotic parent or not.
There are a few flaws here and there but nothing that kills the movie, in fact, the only thing that really dropped me out just for a moment was a scene where Madeline is cooking breakfast for Toby. He asks if she’s cooking eggs, which she says she is and he even makes a quip about them possibly being chicken eggs, but I couldn’t see any. She was slicing leaves and cooking some mystery meat in a tube, but there were no eggy-weggs in sight. A super minor thing I know, but when they are mentioned but not seen, they are noticeable by their omission.
Still, if a lack of eggs is the only thing wrong, then that’s not too bad, and it’s not as if I will jump on amazon or whatever and leave a one-star review that simply says, “A distinct lack of eggs. Awful movie.”
Actually, there was one other moment that didn’t really work for me and I found unintentionally funny and that was when Toby stumbles across a deceased monkey and has an image of his dead father flash into his mind. I just found the dead monkey being compared to his dad a bit silly, really. Especially when they were both in similar poses and yet when we saw his dad’s corpse initially, it was in a completely different position.
Again, a very minor thing that certainly didn’t cause me any problem with the film overall.
The movie was different enough from Sweetheart to be its own beast (literally) and even with the slightly similar premise; it offered something interesting with great visuals – the island looked absolutely stunning – and some good creature effects too.
So yeah, I enjoyed this. I know I’ve picked on a few things but it was still an entertaining movie. Even when Toby starts to take charge of the situation and makes a trap to stop the creature, he may have picked up how to craft it really quickly considering how inept he was at absolutely everything, but he’s still not without his faults and it made sense for the progression of the character in that he was actually learning from his experiences on the island.
Everyone did a great job, the movie never became dull or tiresome and there were some interesting things going on here. Sure, the final scene was predictable, but I really didn’t mind.
Toby may have been a clueless moron initially and should have been a crap protagonist due to how much of a fuck-up he was but he was written and acted in such a way that he wasn’t overly irritating and his charm carried the performance. This was helped by Kristine Froseth who nailed her role and did a fantastic job of portraying a sense of vulnerability but also the strength of character that made it completely believable that she had been surviving on this island since her childhood
Director Franck Khalfoun also directed the 2012 remake of Maniac that starred Elijah Wood (well, his hands mostly) and is one of the few remakes that I actually thoroughly enjoyed. He has also been directing a film called The Unearthly which is (at the time of writing) in pre-production so I’m looking forward to seeing that too.
His co-writer David Coggeshall was also the writer for titles such as The Haunting in Connecticut 2 and episodes of the Scream TV Series so both writer and director are no strangers to the genre.
If you’re in the mood for an interesting little flick that whilst light on blood and gore still keeps the creepy atmosphere going and will keep you interested in the proceedings, then you can’t go far wrong with Prey.