Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hunter Prey (Part I)


Despite not giving a toss for Batman: Dead End, the short film that made Sandy Collora a household name (at least in houses with thirty year-old virgins still living in their parents' basement), I've been waiting over a year to see Hunter Prey. The plot seemed generic, but I admired Collora's back-to-basics approach to sci-fi filmmaking, inspired by his love of late 70's/early 80's sci-fi films: minimal visual effects, a steady camera filming real locations, and tight plotting with interesting characters and ideas. The end result is frustratingly uneven, with enough entertaining twists on old-school sci-fi tropes to make it worth recommending.

The plot is pretty simple: the military ship Prometheus crashes on a barren alien planet that in no way resembles Tatooine (except in every single possible way, right down to the giant alien skeleton hanging out in the middle of the desert). A handful of soldiers survive the crash, who look so much like Boba Fett that you could reasonably believe that the movie is actually about three space nerds rocking some awesome Star Wars cosplay outfits who have crashed on a barren planet while on their way to a space comic-con. The soldiers soon learn that the only other survivor is the alien prisoner they were guarding. The prisoner kills all the soldiers except the cynical, insubordinate Centauri 7. Centauri 7 chases after the prisoner, and, of course, who is the hunter and who is the prey remains up for debate for the rest of the film.

Collora handles it all admirably, both as a co-writer and director. He brings enough twists and fun ideas to the table for ninety minutes of good, old-fashioned space opera, but the film's ridiculously small budget (right around a half-million dollars) keeps getting in the way. Too many compromises were made for this story to live up to its potential. Oddly enough, these compromises have nothing to do with technical aspects of the film.


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