When Ellie (Simone Sullivan) bumps into seemingly nebbish Leonard (Kale Arndt) in his driveway one day, it seems like a simple accident at first. There are no accidents in art, as they saying goes, and that adage certainly holds true for horror movies. Ellie may think she has the upper hand, but the short film Prey holds many surprises for her and for its viewers.
After their mishap, Ellie pulls some sleight of hand with Leonard’s key ring behind her back. He leaves in his car and she returns to his home later, with his house key in tow. She brings along her accomplice Chris (David Koshuba) to burglarize the home. Everything seems normal and even a little boring to them until they discover a specially locked door in the basement. What they find there is bone chilling, and when Leonard returns home, things get even worse.
Directed by Jason Fong and Luis Garcia from a screenplay by Fong, Prey is a well-paced short filled with suspense and laced with a bit of humor. Simone Sullivan and David Koshuba have terrific chemistry together as a pair of well-trained thieves who crack wise with each other during their work. Kale Arndt also acquits himself well as a somewhat nerdy professional – his job title is revealed in the final minutes, so I won’t spoil it here – who hides a dark side under his white shirt and striped bow tie. Speaking of spoilers, Bethany Jacobs is featured in a key role that I don’t want to give away here, but I will say that she gives a convincing turn. Brian Dykeman rounds out the cast nicely as Officer Lawson, who visits Leonard’s home because of a noise complaint. Sullivan in particular impresses in her role, going from polite signature collector to sarcastic criminal to — well, that would be telling, but her character allows her to stretch through the course of Prey.
Directors Jason Fong and Luis Garcia elevate the proceedings handily, laying groundwork that builds from a sense of danger to one of dread with an ever-present air of suspense. One of many nail-biting scenes takes place as a cautious Officer Lawson interviews a defensive Leonard at the latter’s front door and tensions escalate.
Tyler Bertram’s cinematography is impressive, as is Tyler Westen’s score. Prey also features songs by doo-wop duo Marvin & Johnny that both heighten and lighten the tension.
Prey tells an edge-of-your-seat cat-and-mouse story, with changing status roles and people often being different than what they first appear to be. It offers a balance of fun and gut-wrenching moments, and even some heartbreaking ones.
Prey: (4 / 5)