The story here is nothing earth shaking. A group of unexpecting young people get trapped in a scary place and are hunted by bad stuff. But PROWL rises well above most of it's kin because of two key factors. The cast, and the character development.
I'm not sure that I've ever seen a film with relative unknowns in it that is a better acting ensemble than this. Not a single character rings false, overwrought, or seems like they are related to a producer. Extreme care was clearly put into finding the right people for each and every role. We get the stellar Courtney Hope as our leading lady, who is equally believable as a confused young girl and a capable lady learning she's got more power than she realized. The great Bruce Payne shows up as a trucker in a throwaway role that he makes anything but, and Saxon Trainor is stunning as the mother of a brood that must learn to hunt to survive.
The rest of the cast is equally good, and really outclasses just about any other low budget horror flick I've ever seen.
I was also gobsmacked by how deep the character development was in PROWL. What could easily have been a script filled with one note stereotypes dodged that bullet by giving everyone their due. Even the largely faceless killers are given some humanity in a quick, but crucial interaction. Every aspiring screenwriter out there should take a look at this movie and note how adeptly it makes us care about the proceedings, and avoids providing simple villains and heroes.
And for every horror fan who's ever gotten irritated at the protagonists making stupid choices, this flick is for you. These kids are smart. Not in a wink, wink SCREAM kind of way. Just in a practical, common sense manner. Like when they accept a ride from a trucker they don't know and insist on taking a picture of him and his truck to email to friends before they get in. Very refreshing.
Further adding to the joy is an intensity that borders on insane. This sucker takes its time before it gets going, but once it does, holy shite it is balls to the wall. The tension level it achieves is a hellva lot of fun, and had me grinning ear to ear.
Not to say that all is right in Denmark. The script which handles the characters so well does have some very clunky plot developments. And the editing does its level best in the beginning to really throw off the proceedings. I also found the ending both unsatisfying and disconnected. Add in F/X that do not look very good most of the time and you have enough issues to keep this from being a truly great film, but it did have that potential.
Despite its flaws, there's no getting around the fact that PROWL is a significant achievement and any horror fan should track it down fast.