|It's not entertaining, and it's got an axe!|
Six twenty-somethings travel into the densest part of the woods so they can, ahem, pitch some tents. Little do they realize that a disfigured hermit stalks the grounds, bumping off anyone who humps in his woods. Truly, 1984's The Prey is high quality filmmaking that explores a serious contemporary issue: young'uns picking dumb places to bump uglies.
I will say, though, that The Prey doesn't waste any time in getting creepy, or at very least trying too hard to be such. It begins with a mellow, ambient theme that'll spook your socks off..... until the tempo picks up. Ambiance gives way to awesome, booming drums and a vicious assault on your ears. With violins. Can we make a portmanteau out of this? Violicious? Whoever wrote the score absolutely wanted you to know you're watching a horror movie, utilizing one of the most forced string instrument-laden theme songs I've heard.
Once the noise subsides, the movie cuts to one of its only effective scenes. The camera pans over a burning forest, and in the distance you can make out ghostly moaning. Screams of pain, torture and sorrow echo throughout the woods, though not a soul can be seen. Cue villain origin story.
It all comes together later when a police officer named Lester delivers the intel on this cryptic prelude. The antagonist is the sole survivor of this incident. He and his Romani brethren had a camp set up there in the woods, and it burned to the ground. Surviving such an intense ordeal damaged not only his body, but his mind. The trauma transformed him into a enraged killer. Regardless of the VHS box's claim that the antagonist isn't human (the tagline reads "It's not human, and it's got an axe!"), The Prey's big bad is as homo sapien as you get.
Because one introductory scene isn't enough, the film transitions to a middle aged couple eating and staring at their campfire. It's an enthralling scene that goes something like this:
Man: Good chow [chewing]
Woman: Mmmm... [drinking, chewing]
Man: [chewing, nods]
It continues longer than it ought to, then segues into the two of them going about their chores. The man decides to chop woods in the pitch darkness, and the woman commences cleaning. And by "cleaning," I mean "lots of monotonous footage of walking and first-person views of the villain doing fuck all but staring at her while his heart thumps loudly." The killer was apparently on the verge of a heart attack.
Eventually, the man screams and the woman rushes to his aid, only to find him decapitated (KILL #1). I'll give the actress this: she belts out one hell of a scream and gives a fitting facial response. I can't stand when characters find their loved ones dead and only cut a weak whimper accompanied by a slightly concerned face. Sadly, our lady--who was most likely named Joyce or Ellen or Martha or Cathy--similarly bites the dust. The camera cuts to an axe held aloft by an off-screen assailant, it descends a couple of times and that's that (KILL #2).
Now, cue horny twenty-somethings. Honestly, there isn't much going on for the next half-hour or so. If you're watching on YouTube, I recommend clicking on the 37 minute mark and continuing from there. Or better yet, click the X in the upper right hand corner. You're better off doing that, trust me.
You see, for the next thirty minutes, this is what you'll witness:
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