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Film Review: Prey (short film) (2003)

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Master cake decorater and all-round family man, John (Bub) Morris, has a secret. He likes to hunt and stalk his prey. Woman.


Prey is a short film written and directed by Adam Mason (see also Broken, The Devil’s Chair, and Hangman, among others), his second project after his 2001 debut, Dust. This is a short short film, with a runtime of just over 6 minutes. Obviously that means we’re not dealing with a huge cast, or an intricate, in-depth story – there’s simply no time to develop that in such a short amount of time – but Mason still manages to paint a pretty clear picture of a man with a very dark side.

Prey centers around one main character, who also narrates the story in a voiceover – John “Bub” Morris, played by Casey Clark. Bub is a cake decorator, and he absolutely loves hunting. In fact, hunting might just be his hobby, but he has made it his life. He describes that he gets an overwhelming urge at least once a month to go out with his rifle and track down his prey. He is even adamant that people who don’t hunt are below him, that they are pathetic and don’t even deserve to eat meat if they haven’t killed it themselves. Spoiler alert – Bub also happens to be based on Robert Hansen, the famous Alaskan serial killer (not only has he been referenced on TV crime shows like Law & Order: SVU, Cold Case, and Criminal Minds, but there is also a full length movie based on his crimes, The Frozen Ground, starring John Cusack as Hansen). This alone gives us a big hint that all might not be exactly as it seems.

The way Mason constructs this short film is interesting. Prey was shot in the snowy terrain of Norway and depicts the main character walking around with a rifle, trudging up hills and across fields in search of wild game. As he makes his way through nature, his voiceover gets into the details of hunting and his distrust of government and how pathetic city dwellers are, all the while getting increasingly agitated. He sounds more like an angry, off the grid, anti-government militia member than a guy who loves hunting and is one with nature. Bub is not a happy guy, and when he comes across his quarry – a moment which also happens to feature the only bit of on-screen dialogue in the film – he proves himself even less pleasant than we previously thought.

As I mentioned, there’s not a whole ton to this movie, so it’s tough to get into specifics and technicalities. There’s just not enough of a sample to base anything on. The scenery is nice to look at, and shot in a way that, if you were to subtract the voiceover, it could even be considered peaceful (until the end, of course). The content of the voiceover is not enough to provide a thorough character study of a serial killer, but it is enough to paint the picture of a very angry man and give us a glimpse of what goes on in his brain. The little bit of blood and gore contained in the film works sufficiently, and there’s even a little extra sadism thrown in for good measure.

Prey is certainly worth the 6 or so minutes it takes to watch it, which I guess is easy to say, seeing as how 6 minutes is hardly any time at all. But, believe it or not, they managed to fit a bit of a twist in here, making the short build up to the climax all the more rewarding. The filmmaker was even kind enough to upload the short to YouTube, so it’s fairly simple to track down. If you’re already a fan of Mason’s other films, especially those made around the same time, then Prey should prove to be an enjoyable mini-escape from normal life.

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