Directed by Patrik Syversen
Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment
In Prowl we are introduced to Amber (Hope), a young woman who feels trapped in the small town around her and yearns to break free by starting a new life in Chicago. As her hopes of renting the apartment of her dreams fade fast due a looming deadline to get her deposit to the landlord in time, she enlists the help of her friends to take a road trip up to Chicago so that she can start her new life.
But like most other road trips in the horror genre, things go wrong, so Amber and her friends enlist the help of a friendly trucker, Bernard (Payne), to give them a ride to Chicago after their car breaks down. And as the road trip progresses, suddenly the group of travelers begin to realize that their driver may not be so friendly as he ends up taking them into an abandoned meat-packing plant that is now a training ground for a group of bloodthirsty vampires.
As Amber and her friends struggle to survive against their attackers, our protagonist starts to realize her yearning for something more out of life may stem from something deep inside her with dark and mysterious origins. When Amber takes matters into her own hands to fight back against the bloodsuckers, her own vicious tendencies awaken, creating the ultimate showdown between her and the vampire clan leader, the delightfully sadistic Veronica (Trainor).
Prowl starts off pretty slowly, with the real meat and potatoes of the vampire story not kicking in until about 26-1/2 minutes into the film. But when things finally do get rolling inside the warehouse, Prowl suddenly becomes a fun game of cat and mouse.
For me, Prowl really hinged on whether or not I would be able to connect with Amber, and Hope (who is a relative newcomer to the genre) holds her own throughout the entire 84 minutes and proves she’s definitely a talent on the rise. As a viewer, you can identify with her longing for something greater in life, and as she starts to discover some dark secrets about herself, Hope’s performance as Amber transforms from a girl who could never figure out how to escape her life to someone willing to face off with hundreds of vampires just to survive the “Road Trip from Hell.”
The biggest issue with Prowl, though, is the story, which really could have used some more work. There are a lot of logic issues to be had with the film, but at its core you can recognize that there is a good story lurking in Prowl, which is why I was a little frustrated at the beginning. One of the biggest illogical moments comes when the car breaks down right outside their town, and the kids opt to take a ride with a stranger in a semi rather than just walk the 10 minutes back into town to get help. One kid even says, “Hey, I can see my house from here!”; yet, they opt to climb in the back of a semi filled with boxes of blood. The other thing that comes up in Prowl that is kind of confounding is that the vampires have no aversion to sunlight, especially since that’s been one of the key no-no’s for vampires since the beginning of time. These are just a few things that could have been tidied up had writer Tim Tori taken a few extra days with the script.
Logic issues aside, what I will say is that the good far outweighs the bad in Prowl. The production value on the film is fantastic with some slick camera work by Havard Byrkjeland that gives the film the perfect cold and isolated feel. Since we all know that the success of vampire movies for genre fans generally hinges on whether or not the creatures are more of the evil variety (and not the sparkly kind), I can say that these vamps are just as terrifying as the ones unleashed in 30 Days of Night and when the movie picks up the pace during the second and third acts, director Syversen knows how to keep the tension and body count building until the film’s deadly climax.
In terms of special features on the DVD we really don’t get much. Just your average cast and crew audio commentary and a cookie cutter behind-the-scenes featurette.
With the door wide open at the end of Prowl for sequel potential (what film doesn’t these days?), I’d actually be game for another installment, if for nothing else but to get some of those questions answered and see just where Amber goes from here after the brutal showdown.
3 out of 5
2 out of 5
Discuss Prowl in the comments section below!