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Does 'Prey' Tell A Watchable Survival Tale Full Of Thrills On Netflix?

Prey Hanno Koffler Albert David Kross Roman Yung Ngo VincentHanno Koffler Albert David Kross Roman Yung Ngo Vincent Netflix
Courtesy of Netflix

There is something about vacations and expeditions gone wrong that will always hold a certain fascination for people, yours truly included. “Prey,” tells a familiar story on Netflix. The movie follows a group of friends, who are taking an adventurous hike in Germany in lieu of a traditional bachelor party. It is the movie’s sign of how loyal Roman (David Kross) is to his fiancĂ©, Lisa (Livia Matthes).

Unfortunately for Roman, he has a selfish ne’er-do-well for a brother who brings shame to the name Albert (Hanno Koffler). After all, it is Albert who sets everything into motion. A little into “Prey” and its characters’ expedition, Albert steals a tiny plush unicorn from what is clearly a memorial of some sort. Not too much longer, Roman’s innocent friend, Vincent (Yung Ngo), is shot, grazed by a far-off bullet.

From there, the friends are in a fight for their lives, becoming the eponymous “Prey.” What the quad of friends soon discover is that a mysterious woman wearing a poncho (Maria Ehrich) is behind the rifle. She has the men in her sights, and like “The Terminator,” she is not going to stop. “Prey” examines all of the things that survival movies are supposed to explore.

The limits one will break to survive and the justifications they will make to do it. Add to all of this the ability for vigilante justice to flourish in the bitter wilderness where witnesses are few and far between, and humanity is pretty limitless. As Roman unravels the seemingly motiveless hunt committed by the mystery woman, he must also reconcile memories of his fiancĂ© and his troubled relationship with his brother, Albert. 

Not one to back down, writer/director Thomas Sieben terrifically has “Prey” dig right into the issues without spelling all of them out. Following Germany’s outrageously brilliant TV series, “Dark” and “Oktoberfest: Beer & Blood,” the country is beefing up its movies. Not even a month ago, shivers were sent up spines as “Black Island” delt a gripping moral thriller. 

Similar to that film, “Prey” is not about the who. You learn that early on, so “Prey” instead focuses on the why. The only downfall of “Prey” is that viewers such as yours truly will struggle to make “sense” of everything that happens while unraveling this mystery. Thankfully, the ending does not sell viewers out in terms of realism and actually provides a fair bit of closure. 

Interestingly, the missing pieces that are left hanging go back to revenge, which encompasses the whole movie. How many of us manage the human impulse for revenge or native desire to survive at all costs is part of learning what makes us human. Much like Netflix’s “The Swarm,” it examines the proximity between selfishness and survival, a worthy study for our times. 

All told, the usually dependable IMDb score of a 4.2 out of 10 as of today (9/22/2021) is not accurate, in my opinion. There is food for thought here, and “Prey” keeps viewers’ attention in the fray of characters dodging seemingly inescapable bullets. To writer and director Thomas Sieben’s credit, there is a sense of doom that few films manage to pull off, as viewers have gotten comfortable with safe endings.

So, if you want to find out what you make of the characters and their decisions, check out “Prey” as it streams on Netflix. Are you interested in watching another German film in a similar vein? You will not want to miss “Kidnapping Stella,” the country’s standout remake of the wonderfully suspenseful “The Disappearance of Alice Creed.”

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