The most interesting aspect of Terror on the Prairie has little to do with the movie itself. Following her dismissal from The Mandalorian after liking being a Republican today to being Jewish during the Holocaust, former MMA fighter Gina Carano was embraced by far-right American website The Daily Wire. The site announced it was getting into the movie business, and Carano would be the lead for their first feature. Terror on the Prairie is that film.
For what it’s worth, it’s better than any movie coming from a Kevin Sorbo or Dean Cain-type. Director Michael Polish (Northfork) knows his way around a western and keeps things simple and apolitical. Sadly, there’s a Gina Carano-size hole at the centre of the film and despite Polish’s heroic efforts, eventually becomes impossible to conceal.
Set in post-Civil War Montana, Terror on the Prairie revolves around the McAllisters, a young family having a go at living off the land. The matriarch, Hattie (Carano), is vocal about her distaste for the pioneer lifestyle, but her husband believes they’re making progress. That may be, but it all comes crashing down the one morning Hattie is left to her own devices with her two children (the eldest played by Daniel Day-Lewis’ kid).
A gang of outlaws led by The Captain (Nick Searcy, Justified) approaches the farm asking for food and water, although their true intentions are far less wholesome. A tense standoff ensues, one in which the bandits demonstrate an absolute lack of compassion, and Hattie proves to be a formidable opponent.
Nick Searcy does a lot of work here. He basically does his job and Carano’s. The artist formerly known as Cara Dune is a very limited, often unintelligible, actress and you have to be Steven Soderbergh to take advantage of her screen presence (see Haywire). Michael Polish is no Soderbergh, but smartly builds Terror on the Prairie around her and lets the plot drive the action.
It’s very unlikely Terror on the Prairie will become the cornerstone of a Daily Wire studio, but at least it’s not an embarrassment. The best possible outcome given the circumstances.
TERROR ON THE PRAIRIE is out now on digital platforms and is released on DVD on October 3rd.