Tonight at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto After Dark unleashes some claws and fangs with this film from the Netherlands, Prey. And Amsterdam had better watch out because a computer generated (and occasionally animatronic) lion is stalking the streets in this riff on man versus nature.
When a massive lion wanders into town the bodies begin piling up when it develops a taste for human flesh. The case is troubling to the local police, and they bring in the help of a zoo vet, Lizzy (Sophie van Winden).
Lizzy comes with some baggage in the form of her untrustworthy, dirtbag and occasional boyfriend, Dave (Julian Looman), who is also a camerman for a local news station. The pair look into things, and eventually Lizzy’s ex, a professional big game hunter, Jack (Mark Frost) needs to be called in to put paid to the beast.
This may not be the cat’s meow for everyone, but I think it’ll play well with the After Dark festival crowd because they know exactly what they are in for. There will be maiming, blood, dismemberment, beheading, and a big CG lion. There’s also a healthy dose of humor to keep the film light, even when it’s hip deep in gore.
As much as I like the idea of a man-eating lion stalking a city, (and the occasional less is more technique used at the film’s beginning) the brain can still recognize computer generated images, and animatronic creations as such, and that prevented a complete buy-in for me.
Having said that, the kills are well done, the poor roti guy, and the kid’s slide sequence is pretty well executed. And that leads to the physical effects, as well as the makeup work, those both work very nicely, and the remnants of the lion’s attacks always look pretty graphic. But the director makes sure things don’t get too serious by keeping a bevy of jokes nearby to lighten the mood.
In the end, Prey is a fun romp that lacks any real bite, and is probably best seen with an audience that will appreciate… say like, Toronto After Dark?
The film is preceded by the short L’Homme et la Poisson by Leon Lewis, which also ties in nicely with the nature versus man theme that is at work in Prey.
You can pick up tickets for this show, and those for the rest of the week here. And then you can tell me what you’re watching Toronto… After Dark.