PREY / CERT: 15/ DIRECTOR: FRANCK KHALFOUN / SCREENPLAY: DAVID COGGESHALL, FRANCK KHALFOUN / STARRING: LOGAN MILLER, KRISTINE FROSETH, JOLENE ANDERSON, JERRICA LAI / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (VOD), NOVEMBER 4TH (DVD)
For all its success with low budget/high reward horror films, once every blue moon Blumhouse buries a title in the depths of on-demand. It happened to Prey, a flavorless flick likely pitched as ‘Castaway with ghosts’.
The plot seems straight from Mad Libs: following the violent death of his father and undetermined behavioral issues, Toby (Miller, Escape Room) is forced to join a youth program that culminates with three days of solitude in a deserted island in Malaysia. Toby has no discernible survival skills and everything that could go wrong, does. To no one surprise, turns out the boy is not alone. A perfectly groomed teenager named Madelaine (Froseth) appears out of nowhere and shows Toby the ropes to survive in the island. Unfortunately for the allegedly troubled teen (we get no indication of this), whenever he’s alone, a creature stalks him from behind the bushes.
There is a kernel of a good idea here - nature doesn’t care about your feelings - but is barely explored. Instead we get a millennial Blue Lagoon with mild scares and aloofness. The biggest problem is the lead. The Toby character is terribly bland and Logan Miller’s performance doesn’t add any discernible flavor to it. Miller has been better in the past (he was truly obnoxious as the main antagonist in Love, Simon), but here comes across as a sidekick to no one.
Director Franck Khalfoun, a filmmaker better known for the dismal box office performance of his movies (Amityville: The Awakening made $742 on his opening day in USA), is competent enough to keep the movie from fully sinking. Make it interesting, that’s a different story: At 84 minutes, Prey feels long and meandering. When the protagonist is boring and the script lacks ideas, one roots for the monster to put the characters out of their misery, and by extension, the viewers.