Prey (2016) Review: The Lion Shits Tonight
Updated: Apr 17, 2022
Dir: Dick Maas
Release Date: 2016
“ A zoo veterinarian gets caught up in a grisly adventure as she finds herself leading the city-wide hunt for a monstrous lion terrorizing the Dutch capital of Amsterdam.”
I hope you’ve already noticed the name of the Director for this one because it’s a splendid name.
Sadly, it’s a far from splendid film.
I will point out that I watched the dubbed version of this on Prime and I really dislike that being the only option available. If there were subtitles on offer, I would have taken that option and maybe (a big maybe) it could have been a less ridiculous end result.
Mr Dick Maas also directed the Christmas Horror film, ‘Saint’, 2010, which I own and enjoy each year over the festive period, so it was a bit of a shame that this was amusingly bad.
If you are heading into this thinking, ‘I wonder how a lion got loose in a busy European capital city’, you will be disappointed as they never bother to explain it.
There just is.
Get over it.
We start with a POV but it is clearly a lion because the colour filter is off and we are running through some woodland. The music is dramatic (credits reveal that Dick Maas also did the music) and this lasts for nearly 3 minutes.
We end up at a farmhouse. A child wakes up as a shadow passes her window. A motorcycle arrives in the yard carrying a teenager with her boyfriend who are laughing at nothing.
I’ll point out at this juncture that, as someone who has watched hundreds of creature feature movies (not an exaggeration), there are always characters introduced only to be killed off immediately and we just get on with it. This film decides to give these characters some pointless extra screen time/ lines/attitude and then lets them get killed.
Case in point: teenage girl on bike tells boyfriend to shush or her dad will be angry. He draws a knife like killing her dad is the true way to her heart, they get distracted by a noise and not seen again. Why threaten to kill dad? Oh well, dad wakes up and goes to see what’s up. After an unnecessary and inexplicable daughter giving oral sex for a second comedy scene, they all end up gone. Small child alone and under covers.
Cut to Amsterdam Zoo to meet the heroine, Lizzy, who is sticking her hand down an alligator’s throat for some reason. She is the veterinarian of the zoo. An idiot called Dave pops in for some cheeky banter. He is a cameraman for a local news channel and on/off/cheating boyfriend of Lizzy’s. A phone call interrupts it all and Lizzy is off to the farmhouse crime scene.
We meet a cop who reminds Lizzy they met 6 six years ago on a case involving a baby panda smuggling ring. I hope one day Mr Dick Maas brings that fascinating story to the screen in a prequel spin-off but still, let’s press on.
Lizzy investigates the wounds and fears the worst. We get to see a corpse which we are led to believe is the child’s from earlier so the lion must have let itself into the house after killing everyone else and found her. The cop lists some ridiculous suggestions as to what was responsible, but Lizzy knows better. “I know these wounds. I’ve seen them too often”, she says which presumably refers to the hugely regular occurrence of lion attacks in the zoo. The cop somehow knows exactly what she means as he declares, without it ever being mentioned, “A man-eating lion!”.
We cut to Lizzy and Dave at a bar breaching protocol by blatantly discussing the lion attacks. Dave somehow talks his way back into Lizzy’s affections by simply telling her, “I said I’m sorry”, and they leave. A girl in the street asks Dave where her ‘show reel’ tape is and her boyfriend adds, “You shot footage of her pussy didn’t you?”. Lizzy sorts it out and leaves Dave in the street.
To the golf course now where we meet some more pointless lion food discussing a business merger 2 guys want to cut the 3rd guy out of. Again, there’s no merit to this, they don’t tell us the business they are in and we never see them again after it. 5 minutes of screen time each I would say where one of them is attacked and lots of blood later is found dismembered by a sand trap. Lion paw prints are seen in the sand and we move on.
The Police Chief decides to keep this lion nonsense quiet with a total media blackout. And suggests that, “Maybe it’s in Germany already, chewing on a Kraut”. Lizzy puts the news on TV and we see the Golf Club news report discussing the lion attack. I would imagine that a lion running loose and eating people in a city would be surprising news at the very least but after the report, the news anchor merely says, “Okay then”, and moves onto a story about the number of pigeons in Amsterdam. We never get to hear what the focus of this story is but maybe, when Dick Maas has made his panda smuggling feature, he can turn his attention to the pigeons. He could have an entire animal-based franchise on his hands here if he plays his cards right and Lizzy could star in them all.
Anyway, the media blackout clearly has to be scrapped so the Chief calls a press conference where all of the press just make jokes and laugh about the deaths of several people and mock the idea that a hugely dangerous animal is on the loose and to blame. How very responsible. As they leave the conference, the chief and cop chat and add the following, unusual dialogue; “They won’t care unless it eats half the soccer team”, “Maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad idea”, “So, you’re from Rotterdam?”. Hilarious, I am sure you agree.
Lizzy knows a hunter who would be good for the job of killing the lion, but the chief chooses someone different. Typical. The lion, by the way, is hiding in an underpass and nobody seems to notice it. Or the severed arm by the side of the road. A motorcycle delivery guy is the next bit part character who gets too much screen time and we meet him now as he nearly runs Dave and Lizzy down, prompting Dave to shout, “YOUR MOTHER IS A WHORE!”. This guy doesn’t like that as he stops and draws a knife.
Dave buys some lamb curry from him and a bottle of wine.
We then, inexplicably follow this guy on his delivery where the customer complains about being 2 portions down and no wine. His boss rings him and asks about the missing portions and wine, he threatens to stab his boss and demands his sister is left out of this and his mother (no idea what everyone has against this guy’s family). All of this and he’s being chased by a big, CGI, lion. He escapes by crashing his bike and falling in the canal. He climbs out of the canal and has his head bitten off. What a guy. What a scene. What a waste of our time.
The street sweeper is out on the town and sweeps up some massive shit and a severed head which the guy couldn’t warn the driver about because he had a terrible comedy stutter.
We meet the hunter now and he is a classic British gent in a country house. Sadly, though he has a moustache, it is nowhere near as impressive as the hunter in Jumanji (1995). He also has an idiot son, wears khaki shorts and he turns out to be the cousin of the Chief.
Amsterdam Park is the place they are hunting this lion and he unloads his zebra print jeep when he is locked inside. He drags half a deer through the park and hangs it from a tree, scatters spring loaded bear traps around the carcass, plays lion noises through a speaker and hides in a small and obvious tent far too close to the whole thing. He hears some response to his lion noise and his idiot son turns up dressed the same as him with another speaker. The lion decides it’s seen enough of this stupidity and attacks them both, killing the hunter while his son stands in one trap and then falls face first into another one.
A helicopter is deployed to track the lion but somehow loses it only for it to turn up outside the park and……ON A TRAM!!! No idea how it got on a tram but here it is. One passenger tries to protect themselves by opening an umbrella but it surprisingly doesn’t hold up against an attacking lion. The ensuing chaos makes the tram collide with a truck and lots of blood gets splattered about.
Lizzy finally gets to bring in the hunter she mentioned earlier. Jack is an ex-boyfriend, so she looks through a photo album and smiles at the memories. Dave is jealous. And still an idiot. We then meet Jack…… Jack is a British wheelchair bound one legged alcoholic who gets the opening line of, “Careful you silly bastard!”. Jack arrives in the park on a caterpillar tread wheelchair, engages in some ex banter with Lizzy, meets Dave and invites them both to dinner. He also suggests using the kill from the attack to tempt the lion back. He is referring to the mutilated remains of the cousin of the police chief so it doesn’t go down too well.
An Asian nanny takes a call and assures the caller that the children are fine and in their room. When pressed to check, she discovers that of course they aren’t in their room, they’ve climbed out of the window and gone to play on a slide in the park. Even a rampaging killer lion is no deterrent when it comes to the temptation of a spiral slide. The boy is killed and dragged away. The girl survives. Jack is fired before he even gets to do anything and a S.W.A.T. team descend upon the park. They twitchily wander through the dark and find 4 chickens hanging from a tree, fall into a pit of punji sticks and shoot dead the 3 red-neck types we briefly met twice before who were out there trying to kill the lion themselves. Shame. One had an eye-patch and everything.
Jack is now drunk at dinner. Really drunk. Over the top exaggerated drunk.
He tells a slurred story that ends when he draws a gun and shoots a chandelier down from the ceiling. Classic Jack behaviour! He gets arrested but also rehired after being allowed to string up a human corpse in the park.
For some reason, Dave is permitted to film this. Lines like, “Declared an emergency”, and, “This isn’t just a lion!”, get spoken. It is just a lion by the way.
The plan is, Jack is going to sit in the park in a wheelchair and wait for the lion. He makes noises like they do on Finding Bigfoot and sits in a bush. It was at this time I noticed that Jack looks like Rik Mayall in that Birthday episode of Brit sitcom ‘Bottom’ when he breaks his leg and has to be in a wheelchair. I couldn’t shake that image for the rest of the film.
Anyway, the lion shows up, Jack fires the gun and then ensues one of the best motorised wheelchair chasing a lion scenes I have ever seen. All green screened and sped up. It is hilarious. It leads to an old building (how big is this park?) which turns out to be a medical facility full of corpses. Lizzy turns up again. Dave does as well shortly afterwards. Lizzy escapes lion attack by tipping a sofa onto her own head and then closing the door and wedging a table under the handle which stops the lion from using it. Jack stares down the lion which then charges him and chews his one good leg to shit.
Good work, Jack.
Lizzy goes to help him and Jack asks his final request….. “Can I see you naked one last time?”.
Even with all of this going on, Lizzy goes to grant this wish until Jack hits her with, “Heh heh heh, just kidding”,
“You asshole”, she says back with a smile.
She then slaps a hacksaw into his open wound and cuts his leg off. The final line I will highlight is just because it is something that everyone who knows someone called Dave has probably said, or certainly thought, at one time or another;
“I’m not sure this is a good idea, Dave”.
The reason behind it being said here is when they decide to trap the lion in a sealed room and release toxic gas which is in the building for reasons unknown. Well, the lion takes the gas, Dave saves Lizzy, the lion attacks again but then gets skewered through the head and finally dies. As does Jack who suffered so many wounds, he should have died ages ago. They fork lift the lion’s body away and the police chief gets some photos. Unsure of why but Lizzy gets in an ambulance to accompany Jack’s corpse somewhere. While on the road, she rings Dave, who she just spoke to in person, and says she wants to sleep with him and then……. ANOTHER LION!!!!!! Another lion attacks the ambulance! WTF? Where the Hell did that come from?
To be fair, we don’t know where the other one came from so I guess it was the same place. It is trapped in the ambulance and Lizzy pushes the ambulance onto the train track. It gets hit by a train (hopefully the train driver is okay) in a CGI explosion and that’s that.
We get a happy epilogue where Lizzy and Dave walk through the park, chatting shit and laughing and then some leaves shake and there’s a very quiet noise. Perhaps too quiet. Oh the suspense.
FAVOURITE CHARACTER: Jack the one legged, wheelchair bound, alcoholic, British hunter.
FAVOURITE MOMENT: Green screen hyper speed wheelchair chasing a CGI lion
Jack: “Careful you silly bastard!”
FAVOURITE DEATH: Motorcycle delivery guy losing his head