Brett Kelly's backwoods monster flick "Prey For the Beast" is another title from the new UK label, Brain Damage Films -- cheap DVDs showcasing recent indie horror efforts, mainly from the U.S.. This particular film is indicative of what most perceive to be the general standard of the vast majority of the recent slew of such cheaply-made indie horror flicks: unimaginatively written, flat and workmanlike in execution, and sorely lacking in even the merest hint of an original idea -- with the result that even with a diminished running time of barely seventy minutes (about ten minutes of which are taken up with lengthy title and end credit crawls) it seems to go on for an eternity. "Prey for the Beast" falls into most of the standard traps that often afflict such low budget movies by inexperienced filmmakers. It's not particularly bad. It isn't even inept in an entertainingly 'Ed Wood' sort of way. For the most part it's just really boring -- the worst crime a supposed horror movie can commit.
Of course indie filmmakers are necessarily restricted by budget in what they can do, but they also have complete freedom to pursue any crazy idea that occurs to them without interference, imagination should run wild; so it's quite depressing that so many choose to take a generic, utterly formulaic path such as this. Even though some of the other films in this first batch from Brain Damage Films are utterly risible, at least a few of them are brave enough to try something different, however inevitably ridiculous the results.
The film begins with a rather unnecessary pre-credit sequence that follows a tried-and-tested slasher template: two unnamed lovers in a tent, out camping at night in their anoraks amid rather unromantic and freezing-looking woodlands, quickly become food for an unseen monster, each prosaically 'offed' in dull from-the-monster's-point-of-view kill sequences. Next a bunch of guys, out on a camping weekend away from their wives in an attempt to perk up one of their number (played by director Brett Kelly) whose wife was caught cheating on him, row out to the selfsame isolated island woodland, where they quickly prove themselves less than able to live up to the survivalist ethos they like to think they represent: their boat drifts away with their first-aid provisions still onboard, and even a supply of dope one of them brings with him is rendered useless by his forgetting to pack any paper roll-ups. Meanwhile, a bunch of sexy young girls are also staying on the island, bikini-bathing on the other side of the lake. Naturally two of them are lesbians, but despite the cynically calculated promise of some bare flesh to keep the boredom at bay, such an eventuality never materialises.
The two groups soon meet, furnishing the film with its plentiful supply of potential victims, of course. The monster turns out to be a sort of cross between a Sasquatch, a "Howling"-style werewolf and the Predator. A bloke in a big bulky hair suit, in other words. We’re supposed to believe the creature moves about by leaping through the trees (although of course this is merely 'represented' by having the camera pan very quickly from tree to tree with a few growls dubbed onto the soundtrack).
The group stumble upon the body of a naturalist whose been trying to track this creature to prove its existence, but only ends up getting both of his legs eaten off for his trouble. From here on in, it really is business as usual for the rest of the film: as they try to find their way of the island, one by one a member of the group repeatedly makes the same mistake of wandering away from the others, whereupon they're instantly dispatched in a shower of unconvincing fake blood and entrails, the director here making the elementary mistake of trying to mask all other short-falls by filling the screen with badly executed gore. This yawn-inducing pattern of watching a bunch of people traipsing about some sparse woodland, which looks more like it was filmed in a local park, for long stretches of screen time, punctuated with yet another not-very-good killing -- the swoosh of a rubber monster claw here, a brief flash of lumbering beast there -- firmly entrenches itself until the final three (the two good-looking lesbians and the director's character -- surprise, surprise) find refuge in a derelict cabin, ready for the final showdown. We never learn exactly what the monster is, or where it has come from, and there is no attempt at all to flesh out any real story.
Even the kills are unimaginative. I can see no real reason for this film to exist other than to showcase the modest talents of the makers of the rather elaborate monster suit. There are lots of lingering aerial shots of the woodlands and surrounding mountains, the director obviously so enamoured of his 'Kubrickesque' helicopter shots that they keep reappearing throughout the film, slowing the moribund pace even more. The cast performances are unremarkable, neither amusingly poor or especially good. Then again, no one really has much of a character to get their teeth into. The guys don't even fall into the usual categories (handsome hero, unhinged psycho, nerdy coward) all of them merely a bland identikit bunch of average Joes. The women are almost as unvaried and indistinguishable. At one point it seems as though injured survivors of the monster's attacks may become infected: one of the men gets a wound on the hand and starts to get delirious and unstable; later the final three survivors stumble upon what appears to be a zombie-like former victim. But just when it seems the film may be on the verge of at least enlarging on the dull, predictable path it has hitherto been following so assiduously, this promising thread is completely dropped. The gore is unimpressive so there isn't even that consolation for the easily impressed: just lots of fake blood squirting everywhere and a few rubbery intestines jiggling around.
The disc includes the six trailers for Brain Damage Films' current set of releases. There are no other extras. As usual, the film is presented in non-anamorphic widescreen. The flat, video look of the film doesn't really require anything more substantial: everything about this film ,it seems, is merely average.