Yep… your Favorite Catgirl just can’t seem to get enough of those wacky “killer piggy” movies… and by goodness, I’ve found another one! This time out, our cranky killer pigs hail from France…Yes, France… not exactly the country you think of when it’s time for some deadly “When Pigs Attack” kind of horror action, but hey… Lately though, the French have shown me they know a thing or two about zombies…. and mutants… and inbred cannibal clans running amok, so Neko’s willing to give them a chance on this idea. What have we got to lose?
Our synopsis? Well it goes like this: “Prey” tells the story of Nathan (Gregoire Colin) who is at a countryside retreat for a family reunion that he expects to be particularly contentious. Claire, his wife, has to announce her pregnancy to her family and their plans to leave for a new life in the city but there are also tough decisions that need to be made to prevent the family’s pesticides business from closing down. However, on the first night as the family gathers, a group of terrorized deer mysteriously throw themselves to their deaths into the farm’s electric fence. The men decide to venture into the surrounding forest to find the reasons for the animals odd behavior. Carrying a shotgun for the first time in his life and witnessing the growing tensions between the men of the family, Nathan soon discovers that hunting season is not over yet. Now they’ve become the prey.”
Killer Piggies…. Yep, your Favorite catgirl just couldn’t pass this one up. Will it live up to the promise of the films that came before? Maybe even reach the lofty staus of the aussie film “Razorback”? Guess there’s only one sure way to find out, and that’s for me to watch it, and my Gentle Visitors to “Read On”….
So… as has become the usual custom around our apartment, “Movie Nite” last week began with Carolyn quizzing me around dinnertime as to just what new “weird foreign” horror movie I might be planning to spring on her from the constantly growing pile of DVD’s in my “To Watch” pile. She tries to pretend it’s such an ordeal, but despite her playfully feigned annoyance I’ve figured out she’s pretty much happy watching just about anything as long as we can cuddle up together for the evening on the couch all warm and cozy. Some ordeal indeed… sounds as if she’s got a sweet “Master Plan” of her own for enjoying our time together. The cunning sneak that she is….. Not to worry though…. nothing, not even a little “naughty fun”, can come between this lil’ lady and a good (or even bad) “killer pig” movie…. 🙂
Our film starts out on a rural farm somewhere in the “boondocks” of France. Yes… it’s surprising to me too… I’ve never really thought of France as being… well…. big enough to actually have “boondocks”. I know, I know… it’s probably sheltered lil’ me being so used to living in the US where we have wilderness areas almost bigger than all of France itself. But I’ve an open mind, and I’m learning. A old farmer slips through his field only to get waylaid by some unknown… thing… that does a quick “hit-and-run” attack on him before being chased off by the old man’s son. We don’t get too much time to find out anything more before a ruckus at the electric fence at the perimeter of the field leads to the grisly discovery of a group of wild deer all “crispy-crittered” in the fence, having thrown themselves to their terrible death in a frantic attempt to escape that same unknown thing. It’s a neat scene… but even at this point it also makes one wonder who in their right mind needs to surround a simple farm with the kind of lethal voltage usually reserved for evil lairs or top-secret government missile bases.
A single tooth is found lodged in one of the carcasses… a tooth from one big, nasty wild piggy. Naturally our guys want payback for the attack on the old man as well as the chance to vent some manly testosterone roaming about the woods all armed and dangerous. Look out simple woodland critters….
But that’s not all that’s on tap for us. Back at the family estate, our nominal hero for this one, Nathan (played by Grégoire Colin) is trying to convince his wife Claire (played by Bérénice Bejo) to leave the family business and come away with him back to Paris where they can start their own lives away from Claire’s controlling family. You get the sense that Nathan isn’t exactly on harmonious terms with his in-laws, something I wish had been gone into in more detail, but there’s not really all that much time to do that before Grandpa and Uncle David get back from the field and rope Claire’s father and Nathan himself into an impromptu spur-of-the-moment hunt. He figures it’s a good chance to try to lever Claire away from their influence as well as spill the news of her recently discovered pregnancy on them in a way that will let them know once and for all that she’s his wife as well as their daughter. Her dad, Nicolas (played by François Levantal), basically blows any idea like that right out of the water…. Claire is a brilliant chemist and absolutely essential to his plans to save the family’s failing fertilizer company. He tells Nathan pretty much to shut his mouth and “suck it up”…. Clair is his daughter and will do as he says before ever listening to any complaints Nathan might have about the situation.
Fertilizer? Chemicals? Oh yeah…. Neko sorta knew what was next, and so will you Gentle Visitor. I know its an old idea… but hey, pollution spawned crazed mutant piggies sound better than just regular mean ol’ piggies… so this Catgirl was certainly ready when our little group gets waaay out in the woods and discovers that the ones doing the hunting from here on out is definitely not going to be them.
I wish I could say it’s a long suspenseful drawn out affair in which the loyalties of the various family members are pitted against Nathan’s naive wish to find a connection with Claire’s family to find the respect he deserves as her husband….. but that just ain’t gonna happen. Nope, there’s just not enough time for such things as character development once the pack of piggies gets the scent of our lil’ group. There are some good moments, but mostly we get to see the pigs separate our fractured group, take them out one by one, and slowly get whittled down to just the single meanest, craziest mutant pig of them all who finally faces off against Nathan and Claire (once she stupidly arrives with her mom to see why nobody’s answering their phone) for a climactic fight to the finish.
I suppose the most disappointing thing here is the usual lack of sympathetic characters. They are all pretty much stock figures…. the crotchety grandfather stuck in the past, the thuggish brutal uncle, Claire’s scheming evil father, her mostly unnecessary mother…. and all completely unlikable. Then there is Claire and Nathan themselves…. supposedly so in love but so very unable to take a hold of their own lives in the face of the wishes of others, such a disappointment. The ending? Let’s just say I wouldn’t wanna end up like poor Nathan for all the mutant pork chops in France… Sheesh….
Unfortunately, despite wanting this one to wow me, I can’t really say it did. Neko can only give “Prey” a rather middle-of-the-road 3 “Meows” out of 5. It’s more “pig” than “pork”…. with decent practical effects and cinematography, but lacking overall in characterization and a bit too thin on plot. Too darn bad….
Now the DVD…. that’s a different story. The Region 1 disc by IFC Films is excellent, with both the original French audio as well as good English subtitling in a wide-screen format all for about 15$ US. Not a great film that breaks new ground, but certainly something for the “killer pig” aficionados among us. Still, the great majority of you out there might be better advised to do this one as a rental…. (At least “quality cuddle time” was nice for me that evening.)
Trailer? Do killer piggies go “Oink!” in the woods? Yep… Neko’s got ya covered!!