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Patrik Syversen
Ruta Gedmintas, Joshua Bowman, Courtney Hope, Bruce Payne, Jamie Blackley, George Oliver, Atanas Srebrev
Writing Credits:
Tim Tori

Amber dreams of escaping her small town existence and persuades her friends to accompany her to find an apartment in the big city. When their transportation breaks down, she and her friends gratefully accept a ride in the back of a semi. But when the driver refuses to stop and they discover the cargo is hundreds of cartons of blood, they panic. Their panic turns to terror when the truck disgorges them into a dark, abandoned warehouse where bloodthirsty creatures learn to hunt human prey, which, the friends realize, is what they now are ...

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 84 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 3/29/2011

• Audio Commentary with Director Patrik Syversen, Writer Tim Tori and Actors Courtney Hope and Joshua Bowman
• “The Making of Prowl” Featurette
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Prowl: After Dark Originals (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 29, 2011)

As part of a series called “After Dark Originals”, 2010’s Prowl introduces us to a group of small town late teens/early 20-somethings. 18-year-old Amber (Courtney Hope) lives with her alcoholic mother and dreams of getting out to the big city.

Amber gets her shot when an affordable apartment opens up in Chicago. The landlord tells her he needs the money immediately, so Amber bums a ride off of her friends. Amber and five pals gather into a van for the trek to the Windy City.

Unfortunately, they barely make it past the town limits when the van overheats. They can’t get it repaired right away, so they hitch a ride with a tractor-trailer driver named Bernard (Bruce Payne). One condition? That they don’t touch the truck’s mysterious cargo.

This trip doesn’t go well. While five of the kids party in the trailer, they get jolted by some erratic driving. They attempt to check on their pal in the cab, but Bernard answer and avoids questions. He refuses to stop the truck and causes the passengers to freak out.

They also decide to inspect the strange cargo and find themselves creeped out when a) they notice air holes in the boxes and b) see blood come from the packages. As soon as they get out of the truck, bad turns to worse; they end up in an abandoned warehouse in the middle of nowhere and discover that they’re intended as prey for hungry predators.

Early parts of Prowl caused me to fear the worst. It suffers from a cliché sensibility – C’mon, small-town girl who needs to get out? Alcoholic mother and dead father? – and some weak development. We get clunky foreshadowing via lines like “this town eats people alive” and cheap scare moments that make no sense; why try to jolt us just became Amber knocks on the door at a convenience store?

Once the characters hit the road, however, and end up in the back of that truck, matters take a significant turn for the better. Exposition and development improve, and the circumstances turn creepy in a convincing manner. The movie doesn’t tip its hand as it goes; it allows the story to progress in a manner that keeps us curious and off-guard.

And then all hell breaks loose when the kids hit the warehouse. I won’t call this a truly great action scene, but it’s awfully effective. The creatures swarm about and pick off the kids; they fight back as best they can, but it’s mayhem. Good mayhem – the kind of mayhem that gets the viewer’s heart pumping and accelerates the adrenaline.

It’s also the kind of mayhem that can help carry a film, which Prowl needs, as it never quite comes back to the level it reaches here. From the time the kids enter the truck to the finish of the initial attack, the movie fires on most cyliners.

After that? It’s still pretty good, but it sags occasionally and loses steam. Hope does pretty well as Amber, but she can’t quite carry the movie on her own, and that’s what she’s required to do; she’s the main character and we’re with her for prolonged periods of time.

Amber also gets some fairly silly development along the way. I won’t spoil the revelations, but I don’t think they’re effective, and they threaten to send the movie down the wrong path.

Nonetheless, even if the remaining half of the film can’t match up to those powerful early moments, Prowl is never worse than watchable, and it’s often fairly involving. It delivers a real jolt, something I can’t say about the vast majority of modern horror films.

The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B+/ Bonus C-

Prowl appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. As far as SD-DVD transfers go, this one looked pretty mediocre.

Sharpness was up and down, as the movie exhibited inconsistent levels of clarity. Overall, close-ups boasted good definition but wider shots suffered from mild to moderate softness. Artifacts made the image a bit messy at times, but no issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement failed to appear throughout the movie. Source flaws weren’t a factor.

Colors weren’t much of a concern in this fairly monochromatic affair. Given the nature of the story, I didn’t expect dynamic hues, and the film tended toward a subdued brownish look much of the time. What colors we found seemed decent but unexceptional.

Blacks tended to appear somewhat loose and inky, though, and shadows were often too dark. The shadow scenes weren’t horribly dense, but they could be a bit tough to discern. All in all, there was enough positive material on display for a “C+”, but it wasn’t an inspiring presentation.

Stronger material cropped up with the film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Like many horror movies, it mostly went with creepy atmosphere. A few action/scare sequences brought the track to life in a more active manner, though, and these used the channels well. The audio used the speakers in a natural manner that created a good soundscape. Music also featured nice stereo imaging, and the surrounds contributed to the ambience.

Audio quality was positive. Music showed nice range and clarity, while effects offered good accuracy and punch. The smattering of loud scenes showed solid definition, and they lacked distortion. Speech was also concise and natural. Nothing here dazzled, but it achieved its goals.

Only a couple of extras appear here. The most significant offers an audio commentary from director Patrik Syversen, writer Tim Tori and actors Courtney Hope and Joshua Bowman. The commentary come constructed in an unusual way: while three of the participants sit together for a traditional running, screen-specific chat, Syversen appears via voice mail; stuck in Norway on another shoot, he leaves messages on Tori’s phone, and we occasionally hear these. During the commentary, we learn about the film’s influences, story/character elements, cast and performances, sets and locations, music and audio, and stunts.

Syversen is a non-factor; he only pops up five times, so he appears for maybe 10 minutes of the film, and he doesn’t say a whole lot when he does speak. The others do little to carry the load. Tori provides the best information, as he throws out nuggest about the story and deleted/altered sequences. Much of the track drags, though, as nobody has a whole lot to say. This is a slow and only occasionally informative commentary.

The Making of Prowl runs only two minutes, 42 seconds. It gives us some background on “the strays” – the movie’s creatures – along with some from Syversen, Tori, Hope, and actor Ruta Gedmintas. Little information appears, so don’t expect anything more than basics and promotion here.

The DVD opens with ads for Husk, “After Dark Originals”, “After Dark Horrorfest 4”, Break.com, the Epix Channel and FearNet HD. These appear under “Also from Lionsgate” as well. No trailer for Prowl shows up here.

When it comes to horror films, you’ll find a whole lot of dreck and few effective efforts. I certainly don’t expect to find a gem among direct-to-video fare, but Prowl delivers a generally strong effort. While it occasionally falters, it does more than enough right to turn it into a solid scarefest. The DVD demonstrates average picture, very good audio and lackluster supplements. Horror fans should give Prowl a look.

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