Well. It has finally happened. I am all out of Dutch jokes. Outposter Leopardo is such a prolific contributor of these International Retro Reviews that my supply is exhausted. No more giggles to be had by talking about having a finger in a dyke. No more damp jokes, or tall jokes, to be had at the expense of a whole nation living below sea-level. I am even all out of amusing Austin Powers: Goldmember gifs. I am not really sure what to do now, so without further introduction it is time for Leopardo to review Prey, aka Prooi. This is about a lion who eats a lot of Dutch people, and probably discovers that they taste just like perverted Belgians.
Prooi aka Prey
I have been thinking about what movie I should review next, and I settled on an eighties comedy called Schatjes (aka Army Brats), but it has been hard to track down a decent copy and I did not want to review it on memory alone.
So I almost settled on a crappy copy, but then I came across Prooi, aka Prey, on HBO Max. I hadn’t seen it yet so I decided to give it a watch. It’s written and directed by good old Dick Maas, of Flodder fame, and who must be the most prolific director in Dutch cinema. He’s a bit hit and miss and I think this is one more hit than miss.
Here is the trailer for Prooi, aka Prey.
The main cast of this movie was mostly unknown to me. The secondary cast was more familiar – I have seen a lot of them in commercials. Lead Julian Looman seems to have been in a lot of German TV stuff, and he was in Emily in Paris. Apparently he was born in Austria, but his name is Dutch and I don’t detect any accent. Sophie van Winden also had done mostly TV before, none of which I have seen. Same goes for Mark Frost, he’s has done TV, shorts and video game voices. So, Mr. Maas appears to have decided to save some money there.
Sophie van Winden – Lizzie, animal expert
Julian Looman – Dave, news cameraman
Mark Frost – Jack, another animal expert
Rienus Krul – Brinkers, cop
This movie doesn’t waste time. You know what it’s about, it’s about a killer lion on the loose, and it doesn’t make the mistake a lot of other movies of this type make. It doesn’t pretend there is any mystery to what is going on, which is refreshing. The supposed experts don’t stand around for the entire first act guessing “maybe a large ferret?” while standing over a dismembered corpse. No, it’s a lion.
The movie starts out on a farm, and none of the characters there survive the first 5 minutes of the movie. Of course the youngest daughter is thought to have escaped, setting up the cliché “she is found but nobody believes her”, but a small corpse is soon found nearby.
An interesting massacre on a golf course later, animal expert Lizzie informs cop Brinkers that the killer is a man-eating lion. At the same time, they decide that, based on footprints going the other direction, the animal has chosen Amsterdam as it’s new hunting ground.
Brinkers’ chief of police absolutely forbids anybody to talk to the press to keep people from panicking, only to find out the story has broken already. For some reason he decides to hire his nephew, who has done canned hunts abroad, to kill this lion. When this fails, Jack, the true expert lion killer, is flown in from England to finish the job.
While all of this is going on Sophie’s ex Dave is hanging around being a creep and not doing anything useful.
Is It Any Good?
Yes, it is. Dick Maas is terrible at writing dialogue, and his characters are usually very one-dimensional. But this time he seems to realize this. The movie is tightly edited, dialogue is cliché but to the point, and he doesn’t force any character development where it isn’t needed. One exception: Dave starts out as a creep, and without any real change on his part Lizzy decides to get back together with him. He doesn’t seem to improve, she just seems to worsen.
One of the reasons the movie is so tight is because it wastes no time explaining stuff. The lion is heading to Amsterdam because the expert says so. The main characters make decisions seemingly based on nothing but are always right. And it’s fine, we don’t want to see these characters standing around talking and coming to conclusions, get to the next kill!
Lizzy, Dave and Brinkers are stock characters you have seen a million times. The character of Jack is pretty good though. It’s an interesting choice to have a disabled lion killer, Mark Frost plays it completely straight and it works.
The movie has a few surprises. The usual rule “the kid gets out alive” doesn’t apply here several times. The kills are generally creative and well executed. The gore is good, especially the dismembered corpses look great.
The lion effects are OK, but not always. The animatronic lion and the CGI lion look very different, and the CGI also doesn’t always blend with the live-action, especially when the lion moves around in the light. In the dark it looks fine and the short bursts of CGI as the lion attacks look good enough. This is pretty low budget, remember, but the money is used well.
It even has a twist ending. Kind of.
This is pretty decent B-movie stuff. It flopped in the Netherlands and I have not heard anything about how well it did in the rest of Europe, but apparently it did very well in China three years after it’s domestic release. In one week in march 2019, it was listed as the sixth most seen movie of that week. It played in 4.000 cinemas, had 1.2 million tickets sold and made almost 4.5 million Euros. Not bad for a movie with a 3 million production budget.
Just give it a go. I don’t know if it’s on HBO Max anywhere outside the Netherlands but if it is, there’s a lot to enjoy here.