Every once in a while you find a little gem of a film hidden amongst the usual low budgeted dross that passes for entertainment. I’m not talking about the kind of film that is so bad it’s good. I’m referring to a film that, despite it’s low budget, looks and feels like a bigger budgeted studio release.
Hunter Prey is that kind of film. It’s not a “stops your heart” kind of film but it is damn good. My daughter and I found this science fiction film as we were ‘cruising’ Netflix for something a bit different to watch. We both thought it sounded interesting so we gave it a go. The film entertained, and did not expect too much from it’s audience in the way of suspending disbelief. The acting was way over par compared to similarly budgeted films.
Directed by Sandy Collora, he also co-wrote the story with Nick Damon. It had a good solid cast, Damion Poitier (no relation to Sidney), Isaac C. Singleton Jr., Clark Bartram, Collora himself as a bounty hunter and best of all it featured the voice of the beautiful and talented Erin Gray. The entire cast apart from Collora and Gray have a solid background in the stunt world.
Collora got his start as a teenager working as an assistant at Stan Winston Studios, which is why the prosthetics and ‘alien’ make-up looked so good. This film looks like a real labour of love for Collora and considering that the budget for the film was under 500,000 dollars also looks tight and well put together.
At the start of the film we see a spaceship explode and what looks like an escape pod jettison down towards a planet. The planet the survivors land on is a huge desert planet. If there is any water at all, it must be buried so deep that finding it would be an impossibility. There are four survivors from the crashed escape pod.
Two of them are by some rocks with their weapons held ready. The third and fourth are by the wreckage. As one survivor points out where the other two are he is shot and the one he was talking to dashes for the rocks joining his companions. Off in the distance is another survivor, he is armed and he is firing at the others.
The film then goes into ‘cat and mouse’ mode for the reminder of the film. We find out that the other survivor is a dangerous predator alien whose home planet has been destroyed. It must be captured alive. This is proving to be difficult as it appears that the alien is a pretty good marksman.
For the first quarter of the film, no one removes their head gear. The computer link they access, Clea (Erin Gray) tells them that she is analysing the planet and its atmosphere to see if it’s safe to remove them.
When they finally remove their head gear we see who these survivors are and despite their military behaviour and speech, they are not what we thought they were. The alien who spends the first third of the film killing his captors, isn’t what he seems either.
I will admit that I saw the ‘plot twist’ coming after the first fifteen minutes of the film. Mainly because I thought it would be pretty damn cool if that’s where they were going with it. It turned out they were, so I sat feeling pretty smug for the rest of the film.
As prosthetics were used for the vast majority of the actors, they all deserve kudos for the high calibre of their acting. Of course having an experienced professional like Erin Gray along for the ride, even if it was only her voice, added a lot to the believability of the characters. Clea’s interaction with Centauri 7 was brilliant. Gray manages to exude a warmth and humour to her computerised character. Combine that with Poitier’s performance and you have a pretty good double act.
The only thing that bother me though were those great prosthetics. I kept thinking that the aliens seemed awfully familiar. I finally realised halfway through the film that they made me think of Lou Gossett Jr. as the alien in the 1985 science fiction film Enemy Mine. When Hunter Prey finished, I quickly checked and found that they only very vaguely resembled the alien in the 1985 film. I’ll have to keep looking to see if I can find out why the damn things looked so familiar.
I would write a whole lot more about this film, but to do so would spoil the fun. Like I said, I guessed the plot twist but my daughter, who is a pretty dab hand at ‘second guessing’ films, missed it completely.
One thing I did want to point out was the fact that Hunter Prey was shot entirely with a RED camera on location in Mexico, making it another digitally produced science fiction film like the film Monsters also made in 2010 and also shot entirely on location. Another excellent example of why digitally produced films can be just as good as the traditionally filmed ones.
The end verdict of the film is that it’s great entertainment. We liked it so much we bought the DVD to see if there are any special features and to watch it a ‘few more times.’
Oh and if anyone has any ideas on why the damn aliens looked so familiar, drop me a line. Okay?
- Trollhunter (2010): Trolls aren’t Just on the Internet (mikesfilmtalk.com)
- Surreal Wonder: ‘The Most Dangerous Game’ (Review) (popmatters.com)
- The Bounty Hunter (1954) (timneath.wordpress.com)