They say that you can never go home again.
What exactly does that mean?
It’s usually one of those nebulous phrases that someone says during a bittersweet homecoming. Sometimes, however, it’s just the hard truth. You can’t go home. Sometimes you have to leave, you have to get away from the comfortably and the standard and you have explore the wonders of the world.
It’s something that doesn’t happen in “Prowl”.
Amber (Courtney Hope) is tired of her small town life. Her dreams of escape hinge on an apartment in the big city. But it’s not the only dream she has; she dreams of being chased, falling, covered in mud and being caught. It’s something that haunts her. However, all her dreams are interrupted when the owner of the city apartment tells her he’s going to lease to someone else if she can’t get in immediately to put down the deposit. After much scrambling, she gets her friends to help her get to the city. On the way, mechanical problems put their transportation out of commission and a passing trucker offers to take them the rest of the way. The journey takes an unexpected turn when the driver takes them to a mysterious warehouse populated with dangerous creatures.
The first American feature for director Patrik Syversen, “Prowl” gets a firm grip on the ordinary, holds on for dear life and then piles flaws upon flaws upon flaws. You have the stereotypically “pretty” and pretty stereotypical cast. You have the best-looking meat counter girl I’ve ever seen in Hope’s Amber. You have her best friend (Ruta Gedmintas) who still hung up on her beefy ex (Joshua Bowman). You have the stoner couple (Jamie Blackley and Perdita Weeks) and the nerdy guy who has a crush on Amber. These are only superficially developed. It’s obvious they are only around to die.
Ordinarily, if you’re going to have cardboard characters, you should at least try killing them in a way that entertains the audience, but even that is not accomplished. Most of the kills take place off-screen. The few that don’t are only bloody after the fact. This is a cardinal sin. You have to have one or the other: interesting characters or interesting kills. “Prowl” has neither. It seems to be a case of a film being a slave to the genre instead of being a slave to the story: tired genre tropes abound. One that stuck out in particular was the old “no cell signal” trope. Amber tries to make a call and there is no signal for it to go out. Moments later, Victoria (the big bad played by Saxon Trainor) calls Amber’s cell from one of the victims’ cell phones and voila! the call goes through, revealing Amber’s presence. Logical flaws like these drag the film from watchable to maddening.
The positives are rare. The cast does a fair job, given what they have to work with. Maybe with a better script or better interpretation of the one they had, there might be more to talk about.
“Prowl” is a jumble of nonsense, predictability, jump-cuts, and jump-scares circled around what could have been a promising premise. It is a journey that goes nowhere.