In Amsterdam, the mighty city of Amsterdam, the Lion prowls tonight
In case you live in The Netherlands (or the Flemish speaking part of Belgium, like yours truly does) and you're an avid fan of eccentric horror/cult cinema, well then you simply have to be an admirer of Dick Maas. He's pretty much the only writer/director of the entire Dutch region who dares to be different and even a tad bit crazy. After all, Maas is the hero who – during the glorious eighties' decade – brought us the phenomenal horror flicks "De Lift" (about a murderous elevator) and "Amsterdamned" (about a vicious murderer hiding out in the canal system), as well as the legendary black comedy "Flodder" (about an utterly demented dysfunctional family). More recently, in 2010, he also saddled up thousands of little Dutch children with incurable traumas by portraying Saint Nicholas (the local Santa) as a relentless monster. But the ideas behind his newest feature are perhaps the most grotesque and craziest ones of his entire career
In "Prey", Dick Maas unleashes a male lion – evidently an exceptionally large and unusually aggressive species – in the city center of Amsterdam; to my recollection still one of the busiest and least rural capitals of Europe. One could go for the so-called "suspension of disbelief" in case the script attempted to explain that the animal escaped from the local zoo or from the private collection of a foolish millionaire or something, but no The lion simply shows up in Amsterdam and damned if we ever find out who or what brought him there. The closest we ever come to a clarification is a dumb piece of dialogue: "In Eastern countries people still keep lions as pets, and when they escape they don't report it to the police!" Yeah sure
But hey, let's at least try to forget for a moment that absolutely nothing in the script of "Prey" makes any sense. If you manage that, you're left with a completely over-the-top but entertaining creature-feature with a massive body count, tons of blood & gore, ridiculous slapstick comedy, a complete cast of imbecilic characters and a handful of cynical observations about the Dutch society. Throughout the opening sequences, Maas still attempts to pay tribute to "Jaws" and creates a moody atmosphere with ominous POV-shots and sinister music, but then he goes straight for trashy and mindless splatter fun. The lion munches his way through the crowded city without being spotted, so naturally the dumb cop and the cute zoo veterinarian have a difficult time alarming the press and the public. And yet, even when it's made abundantly clear there's a dangerous predator at large in town – that, by the way, already killed at least a dozen of people by then – the public still doesn't seem to be too panicky, as they cheerfully continue to walk their dogs at night, go to restaurants and hang around in the central park! Numerous sequences and plot twists are almost too ludicrous to describe, like when the lion gets on board of a city tram or when a crazy wannabe hunter and his retarded son are hired to ambush the animal in the park. The cute veterinarian eventually has to bring in her former lover, who used to be notorious hunter in Africa. A romance between a veterinarian and a hunter Can it get any crazier? Of course it can, because the "fearsome" hunter turns out to be a driveling alcoholic Brit in a wheelchair!
"Prey" is a pretty bad but immensely entertaining B-movie in every sense of the term! The acting performances are already terrible when the cast speaks in Dutch, but when they switch to English they become downright atrocious. The gore and make-up effects are decent, but look a little too "digital" and – like the case in most traditional creature features – the lion is most menacing when it remains off-screen. I genuinely hope that Dick Maas stays as stubborn and eccentric as he ever was, and that he continues with making these insane movies. It's not because "Prey" gets a low rating (I just don't have another choice) that I don't love and respect this man tremendously!
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