Hunter Prey is a low-budget independent movie that manages to do what many and much better-financed science fictions flicks fail to do: it creates a believable sci-fi atmosphere.
The realm of proper science fiction movies has become rather populated in recent years with some pretty cool titles. When I say “proper” I mean to refer to anything that’s not Transformers horseshit.
This sci-fi resurgence has lead to not only a big-screen reboot of Star Trek – which is decidedly both hit AND miss – but Star Wars is back in a big-bad way and there have been many other titles that have made a name for themselves within the genre.
Technically comic-book movies can easily be described as sci-fi but since they’ve become more of their own genre, I’m not adding any of them on this list. However, some of those good titles notwithstanding, the large bulk of recent sci-fi has been mediocre at best.
This is where the Hunter Prey movie comes in, a low-budget, independent science fiction flick from 2010 which managed to do what so many of the other sci-fi entries fail to: creates a believable sci-fi atmosphere.
And I’ll talk about it whilst avoiding spoilers because Hunter Prey’s story is based around two big reveals, which I WILL NOT spoil.
Anyway, the movie starts off with a quote from Charles Darwin which will prove to be rather reflective of the film’s plot, after which we’re thrown right into an action scene. However, the movie is careful to give us a few establishing shots so that we understand that the events are set on a desert and rocky planet.
The survivors of a crashed ship are under attack from the prisoner they were transporting. They wear what looks like armor and helmets that are a cross between Cylons and the Outcast Power Armor from Fallout 3. It becomes apparent immediately that they are part of some sort of military outfit.
The basic setup of the movie is your average cat and mouse game, with the soldiers tracking down their escaped prisoner. However, as the story unfolds – and as hinted at by the movie’s title – the roles are actually reversed, with the “prey” setting up ambushes and taking out its “hunters” one by one.
I mentioned earlier that the movie has two major reveals and they are rather central to the overall storyline. The first one is very underplayed, with the movie acting as if we should’ve expected it and the second one is played legit, unless you weren’t already thrown off by the first one and thought all bets are off. It’s definitely a weird choice from the filmmaker’s perspective, especially considering how all the trailers and most of the posters bank on the reveals.
I, on the other hand, went into this movie cold and I think I got the maximum brunt of the reveals’ impact. I would suggest you do the same if this seems like the sort of thing that you’d be into.
It should be noted that the armor the soldiers wear is red, thus implying aggression, and also that their ranks are illustrated on their helmets with central crests, very reminiscent of those that Roman legionnaires and centurions had on their helmets. All of these things put together clearly paint a picture of a very belligerent race of beings. These visual cues are only confirmed a bit later into the movie when we find out a bit more, both about the conquest-based politics and philosophy of the soldiers, as well as the reason behind the prisoner’s problems.
Hunter Prey is a great sci-fi thriller, but probably due to its low budget it does suffer in the pacing department. There are long periods of the movie where people are just walking and hiding behind rocks however, I do have to hand it to the filmmakers because they used their surroundings to the maximum. You really do get a sense that the characters are in fact on a very harsh planet.
The general look of desolation also lends itself to keeping the viewers focused on the central plot-line. Even though it might get sluggish at times it doesn’t get bogged down. I would be amiss to not mention how well-shot this movie is. The Director of Photography did a great job with whatever he had to work with.
At its core the plot isn’t something original but nothing really is original, it’s all in the execution and in this case, the twists the story takes. But important thing is that the characters never feel like cardboard cut-outs, they all act as you might expect characters in their situation to act. Not to mention the fact that there’s one character who is aware of what is going on and acts accordingly and I can’t mention how refreshing that was because I didn’t find myself predicting what the ending will be, instead I was wondering that. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s a good thing.
There was this one time though, when I found myself yelling at the movie for being stupid. There’s this one scene where the supposedly military trained survivors walk into an ambush so blatant that it borders on the silly however, one of them those recognize this so that made me calm down.
The Hunter Prey movie is a great effort, especially when you consider the budget, to bring a classic-style science fiction story to the screen, while a bit slow on occasion it’s unlikely that you’ll be bored by the end. It’s a great watch for all fans of science fiction literature and movies.