Saturday, May 06, 2017

169. Alien Prey

169. Alien Prey aka Prey (1977)
Director: Norman J. Warren
Writers: Max Cuff from a story by Quinn Donoghue
From: Sci-Fi Invasion
An alien arrives at an isolated English estate where his presence exacerbates the murderous tension between the couple living there.
This movie’s a little difficult to describe because nothing happens. I know I say that about a lot of these movies, but it’s particularly true here. We open with Jessica waking up in her room to flashing green lights. She runs into Jo’s room to tell her about it, but Jo dismisses the event. Meanwhile, a couple is making out in a car. An alien attacks the man, Anders, and takes on his form to kill the woman.

The next day, Jo and Jessica come across the alien Anders while walking in the woods. Jessica invites him back to their house, but Jo wants him gone. She doesn’t like anyone disturbing the solitude she and Jessica have.

And things play out from there. Jo and Jessica are lesbians, which is related as bluntly as that, as well as vegetarians, which feels like it’s played up as further evidence of their strangeness. There had been a previous visitor to the estate, their friend Simon, but he left early one morning without saying anything.

Jessica finds Simon’s blood-stained shirt and realizes Jo must have killed him. Jo keeps playing mind game with Jessica, doing a push-pull thing, but the movie can’t decide where it stands: is she an emotionally-abusive partner or is she unhinged? In other words, where does the threat lie? That question can be asked of the entire movie because, with all this talk, you might well forget there’s a murderous alien staying at their house, wandering around, and watching them in a gratuitously long sex scene. The movie’s not sure if it wants to be pensive or exploitative and manages neither.

In the end, Jessica and Jo have a fight, Jessica says she’s leaving, Jo knocks her out and goes to dig a grave. Jessica wakes up and begs Anders to take her to London. They have sex where he transforms into his alien form—somewhere between a Na’vi and a reject from Cats—and eats her. Jo walks in on this, flees, and falls into the grave herself where Anders finds and presumably kills her. The final shot is Anders radioing his ship to say Earth is full of easy prey that’s high in protein. THE END.

Like I said, it’s not clear what the threat is supposed to be in the movie—is it Anders or is it Jo? The movie never decides so the tension never builds. Moments of Anders being a dangerous force are pretty removed from what’s happening in the house and it’s not clear that he’s hurting people for any purpose beyond fear and self-defense. Thus there’s no sense of him getting closer and closer to hurting Jessica and Jo or that he will. In fact, the question becomes will Jo hurt Anders? Likewise, Jessica’s slow realization that Jo murdered their friend isn’t slow at all—she realizes it before we as the audience even think to suspect something. On top of that, even though Jessica thinks Jo is a threat, she never starts working to get away until the very last minute. The movie never articulates the threat that you’re supposed to be paying attention to.

So, obviously, not a recommend. It’s boring-bad, not funny-bad, and the exploitation moments like the extended sex scene feel like cop-outs. It’s like they did an initial cut of the movie and realized their thoughtful psychological sci-fi thriller was none of those things so they threw in some salacious elements to get people to say something, anything, “please God, just don’t ignore us!”, about it. Skip it. It’s not worth any kind of attention.

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