The Prey

15 ¦ DVD

French director Eric Valette has an interesting CV; he has a penchant for making seriously dubious horror titles like the poor One Missed CallUS remake, as well as extremely dodgy-sounding Super Hybrid, which he also made outside of his native France.

Recently though, he did direct a number of episodes in the second series of the intense drama Braquo, proving that he has some talent. Thankfully The Prey has more in common with the French police show than it does his peculiar taste in horror.

Even though Franck Adrien (Albert Dupontel) has a short time left on his sentence for bank robbery, he's starting to feel the pressure on the inside; his wife Anna (Caterina Murino) is running out of money for both herself and their daughter, who requires special care; and then there are other inmates who would also like to know the whereabouts of the stash.

It doesn't help that he gets undue attention for having a cell mate, Jean Louis Maurel (Stephane Debac) who's accused of being a child molester; he pleads his innocence, but no-one seems to believe him. Franck gets an inkling that he may well be telling the truth and decides to protect him as much as he can.

Maurel is indeed found to be not guilty, and tells Franck that he's in his debt. Franck asks of him only one thing, to pass on a message to his wife; it's a message that should ease her financial difficulties for a while. Maurel promises to pass the message on.

Not long after Maurel's release, Franck gets a visit from an ex-cop who has been following Maurel's case closely. He informs Franck that Maurel is indeed guilty of molesting young women, but it doesn't end there: he also happens to be a serial killer. Oops.

Knowing that he's sent evil to the home of his wife and daughter, Franck is left with no other option than to break out of prison and track Maurel down –before it's too late.

boom dvd reviews - The Prey
Listen, you didn't see the size of that spider. This is not over-reacting.

If this premise sounds more than a little far-fetched, that's because it is. It doesn't help by also being convoluted; Franck's story includes one too many characters than it really needs, making it a little overly complicated in places.

Dupontel does well with what's asked of him though; initially he doesn't look the action hero type – and maybe he's not – but it doesn't stop him from jumping, running and falling his way through the film. Yes, most of these scenes are completely over the top, but Valette shoots them with understated style.

Debac is suitably creepy as the molesting serial killer; it's just a shame that his character's dark side wasn't explored further.

It's a pity that the film has so much dead weight, because without it, it would have been a far tighter, superior film. Still, it could have been a lot worse – Valette – with his poor horror track record – could have talked someone into including zombies or even giant human-eating snails into the mix. Actually, in retrospect, maybe the snails wouldn't have been that bad an idea after all.

three out of five