In its continued crusade to release a new title every week, Netflix has unleashed its latest picture from its movie vault titled ‘Prey.’ The film is a German thriller written and directed by German filmmaker Thomas Siben. ‘Prey’ premiered on the streaming giant on September 10, 2021. The feature stars David Kross, Hanno Koffler, Robert Finster, Klaus Steinbacher, Ying Ngo, Livia Matthes, and Maria Ehrich.
‘Prey’ follows Roman, a role by David Kross who decides to spend his last day as a bachelor by taking a hike into the woods with his two friends, Vincent played by Yung Ngo and Stefan embodied by Klaus Steinbacher as well as his brother Albert a part taken by Hann Koffler. At first, the quintet seems to be having a great time kayaking down the river and enjoying a nice evening around a fire until they hear a gunshot which they dismiss as a hunter’s shot.
However, the next time the shots are fired, one of the five is wounded, and the men realize that they are being hunted for sport by a maniac hidden in the woods. Now for starters, only one of them is familiar with the woods. They have no vehicle as the shooter bursts their car tires, so a quick escape is out of the equation, their phones have no service, and when they try to use the park phone to contact the police, the operator is murdered before they can call for help leaving them feeling desperate and lost.
The killer seems to be having a good time stalking her prey, spoiler alert, yes, she’s a woman and the team tries to navigate through the thicket while dogging a thread of bullets. Differences start cropping among themselves, making the situation even worse. Weirdly though, the shooter doesn’t seem to be in a hurry while she is everywhere at the same time, something that doesn’t make sense.
Right from the start, this thriller establishes a tone and mood for itself, which it sticks to throughout the running time. The menacing score, incredibly tense silences, and the few characters in each scene create a feeling of uneasiness and intrigue for the audience. Filming most of the scenes in the woods adds a flair of sinisterness into the film while the other scenes filmed elsewhere as well are as eerie as can be, including how the happy memories are presented in flashbacks which give the audience the feeling that everything is not as it seems.
Something a bit baffling in this feature is the friendship dynamic amongst the five men. First, it seems illogical that they were both on board with Roman’s plan to head to the woods, with no objections, whilst there are characters with different phobias when it comes to this escapade. Still, they all agree, and when they pack up for the so-called adventure, they seem to be like the ride-or-die kind of friends, something that keeps changing drastically as their interactions become strangely impersonal and even bitter as the story progresses.
This makes it hard to understand what kind of friends they are, and it is even harder for the audience to invest in the conflicts too. Interestingly enough, a lot of their disagreements seem to crop out of nowhere with no build-up at all, and one can’t help to feel like the intensity of the fights is a little bit forced in some scenes. However, the movie is dubbed, and it is possible that the emotional tension and suspense could have simply been lost in translation.
The movie’s first few minutes are definitely slow and bland; however, things escalate swiftly when the friends start running scared through the woods dodging bullets and trying to outsmart the invisible enemy, which delivers the aspect of thrill and fear. One obviously expects the characters to exhibit more fear, but instead, they sometimes waste crucial time bickering around instead of instantly switching into survival mode. At some point, the narrative sort of singles out one of the guys as the supposed protagonist giving the presumption that this particular person might survive to see another day thanks to the plot armor totally reserved for protagonists.
But, ‘Prey’ makes up for that by putting an equal amount of focus on the other four guys leaving audiences guessing who among them, if any at all, will survive the terrifying ordeal with the protagonist. One crucial aspect worth noting is that this title keeps off following the expected by not basing the order of death of the characters on their personality types.
Tears and the aspect of mourning for their fallen pals are obviously missing due to the desperation of the remaining lot to survive and the ostensible nature of most of their bonds. When it comes to the heartless murderer, a broken heart, and an awful loss-making people to become cold-blooded killers is a trope audience have seen countless times, yet we still buy into it every single time. Furthermore, revenge for a personal loss is a stronger drive to murdering people than ambition for personal gratification and the five could have simply been a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The antagonist is quite the intriguing character, her outward look, her demeanor which doesn’t immediately scream vicious manslayer, which makes one more curious than angry at the mystery surrounding her. The competency she possesses as a sharpshooter is what makes her a lethal villain.
The movie comes to an end in a rather anti-climatic manner, both regarding whatever happenings are going on at the moment and the individual struggles each of the characters is facing. Still, the abrupt ending gives homage to the equally abrupt manner in which everything swiftly materialized.
‘Prey’ is a decent film for audiences looking for a plot-oriented, action-packed, and nail-biting thriller as it does an excellent job of grabbing and retaining the attention of viewers. The plot doesn’t drag, it stays on course, and the characters give one enough time to get to know them without getting attached to them.