Off the Netflix Queue…'Hunter Prey'

What do you get when you mix a small ambitious idea for a sci-fi film with a budget that nearly allows its aspirations to play out? The slick and impressive film Hunter Prey that’s what. Unexpected simplicity combined with high quality visuals yields a product just short of magnificence (yeah this looks stunning in HD) that ranks high in wachability and replay value. Sandy Collora’s independent film just dazzles and delights and is so slick and imaginative you won’t be surprised if you find yourself asking, “who is this guy Collora and why hasn’t he been picked up yet??

Hunter Prey tells the story of a prisoner transport that crashes on a harsh desert planet void of life. While that’s the summary for probably half of all sci-fi films out there, Hunter Prey takes what sounds like a trite story in and spins it so it feels original. The escaped prisoner Oren Jericho is the only survivor of a race that has been wiped out due to an ongoing war. He holds the coordinates to a ship whose payload will similarly decimate the home world of his captors. So with those important details laid out, the chase is on with (forgive the pun) explosive consequences although, in this universe, it’s not clear who is the good guy and who is the bad guy. That’s the real hook of the film.

While the desert chase can get a bit thin and tiresome, the film still achieves a very grand scale despite having a small cast of characters. That said, each one is clad in such intricate make up and costumes that you’d think they just walked off the set of J.J Abrams’ Star Trek. Still for being an independent film almost nothing about it (save for some late 90′s CG) seems amateur. There are plenty of small but impressive twists in this game of cat and mouse to make it interesting as well as surprising levels of detail in every corner of this small film.

By the looks of it, Sandy Collora is more than a pedestrian sci-fi fan but one who’s paid attention to elements of the most beloved films out there and Hunter Prey seems to pay homage to them. There’s bits of Star Wars (even down to the John Williams inspired score), Star Trek, Capricorn One, Enemy Mine, you name it, it’s probably somewhere to be found. Collora has a wondeful eye for design/detail that he culls from year of experience. He’s done creature design for Men In Black, The Arrival, even James Cameron’s The Abyss so he knows what he’s doing (and it shows in the film). Hunter Prey, interestingly enough, was shot using the RED camera and as such is the prefect way to gorgeously showcase the details of the suits, the makeup and even the lavish the locations in Mexico. So even if the story doesn’t do anything for you it’s still very pretty to look at.

You may find yourself (as was I) drawing coparisons to the fan made short films Batman:Dead End and World’s Finest. Well in that case, you’re in right on as these are both are masterminded by the same Sandy Collora. Collora has tons of potential that he brings to this story and is even more impressive watching his jump from those shorts to this feature length production. Granted Hunter Prey does feel a little stretched but you sort of ignore it in light of all the great things the film has going for it.

G-S-T RULING:

There is certainly enough to love in this little movie. Minimalistic but with enough style and flair to impress nearly any sci-fi fan. I sure wish this could have gotten picked up by a larger distributor as this really is a refreshing and new (albeit retro-styled) entry to the sci-fi genre. It’s so much better than the schlock that’s on Sy-Fy and, I think, just short of the brilliance in Lucas’ Episode IV, Hunter Prey is an absolute gem and almost a best kept secret that more people need to see. I’m really looking forward to more from Sandy Collora in the future, I just hope that it’s soon because the world needs to see more from this very talented writer/director.