I reviewed this film a while back when it was in limited release as part of the After Dark Originals series. It’s been released on DVD & BluRay so I figured I’d report the review since you all have a better chance of catching it this time around.
PROWL is the second “kids on a roadtrip gone wrong” film I watched this week, but there’s nothing wrong with it as long the “wrong” part of it is distinct and interesting. And for the most part PROWL is both. Though I’m as sick as you guys are of vampire stories (though I can never get enough of zombie films for some reason), I have to get behind the gritty and grimy vampires we rarely see. Instead of the twinkler vamps, in PROWL we get the 30 DAYS OF NIGHT/NEAR DARK sort. Things get scary. Things get bloody. This isn’t a teen romance, but a story of a girl trying to escape her fate, but failing at every turn.
Told from the perspective of Amber (played by freckle-faced cutie Courtney Hope), PROWL tackles an age old conflict between a person with big dreams and a small town that seems bent on squashing them. Like Luke Skywalker gazing across the dunes of Tantooine, Amber dreams of leaving home, but can’t seem to do it. When an opportunity arises for her to get an apartment in Chicago, she convinces a group of friends to drive her out of Farmfield, Nowhere and into her new life. Of course, as with any “kids on a road trip” flick, shit goes wrong.
When their car breaks down, Amber thinks she’ll never get out of town, but they convince a trucker to cart them into Chicago. The film teeters on this moment where we must believe the kids are desperate enough to be locked in the back of a semi for 19 hours and director Patrik Syversen does a decent job of making the situation desperate enough to make this stupid decision believable. The kids are likable enough, which is crucial, because PROWL takes its time letting us get to know these kids and Amber’s plight well before the vamps come. But once the truck backs into a dark warehouse and the door slides open, shit gets real really fast.
The initial meet between the kids and the vamps is about as tense as it comes. The acting is really good, for the most part, and there’s a real sense of danger as these kids have no clue what they are getting into. For me, the highpoint of the film happens about 45 minutes in when all hell breaks loose and dire circumstances occur at a wickedly fast pace. After this mark, though, the movie kind of skids, as if the makers suddenly realized that there were still quite a bit of movie minutes to fill. The scenes still have a lot of power, but lack the intensity of the initial encounter with the vamps. A couple of jarring edits and an ending that just kind of ends abruptly had me appreciating this film, but wishing it hadn’t peaked so soon. Still, there are some great performances there by the kids and the trucker (played by Bruce Payne who some will remember from HIGHLANDER: ENDGAME and PASSENGER 57) and the scene where the kids first encounter the vampires make the film memorable to me. I also love the splatter and filth this film tosses on our heroines. PROWL may not be the most original of vamp flicks, but it’s a fun one.