Monday 6 September 2010

Hunter Prey

A spaceship crashes, leaving just a few survivors to hunt a dangerous quarry – whose world their race has destroyed – across a desert. Though it's hard to understand what they are saying through their helmet intercoms, it soon becomes clear that this is essentially the Star Trek episode Arena (or the Fredric Brown story it adapted) drawn out over ninety minutes, with a chunk of Enemy Mine padding things out. My impression was that, like Rodriguez making Mariachi, the film-makers did their sums, figured out the bare minimum they needed to make a movie, and managed to do it – for which they have my great admiration. But having worked out that they could make it, I wonder if they asked themselves whether they should, whether this film was really worth the effort. A low budget film needs to offer something you can't get elsewhere: a good idea, a good script, a strong story, a great performance – something! – and this film doesn't have that.

It's all very flat, with none of the flair that marked Rodriguez as a director to watch, even when working without money, and aside from some decent alien make-up, a couple of nice spaceship shots, and a good performance by Damion Poitier as the lead alien, there's not much to commend it. The mid-way twist might surprise viewers new to science fiction. The music tries hard, but is hopelessly overblown for lengthy scenes of desert wandering. The casting of Clark Bartram as lead human is perhaps the biggest mistake. Best known for his role in Batman: Dead End, the excellent fan film that was Collara's calling card, he seems out of his depth as the lead in a feature. There's little sense of what the character has been through, or the gravity of what he's planning to do, and if his beard harks back to Dallas, MacReady and the other hirsute heroes of science fiction past, the comparison does him no favours.

Hunter Prey, Sandy Collora (dir.), Kaleidoscope, DVD, 1hr28

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