By Lorna Baker
Prowler tells the story of Alex, recently released from prison after eight years for the murder of his wife.
Whilst their married life was far from perfect, Alex has always protested his innocence, and he sees his chance to prove it when a seemingly kind-hearted ex-detective volunteers to investigate his claims and dig out the truth.
Finally, will Alex get the justice he has always wanted, or will the truth lead to disaster?
This is the first feature length film out of Tractorni Productions. Produced by David Stock and written and directed by Ignacio Maiso; it’s a confident first attempt. Maiso has written a story that, whilst it has the crucial flashbacks to fill in the gaps, never overly relies on them, as he manages to keep the story focused on the fascinating relationship between the two principal leads Alex and Greg. In a surprisingly brisk running time, he manages to create characters that are flawed, yet well explored. Maiso directs the flow of the piece well, keeping a good pace whilst never making scenes feel too hurried. His style also gives the actors the room to express their character’s inner turmoil.
Inner turmoil is something Alex Reece’s character ‘Alex’ knows all too well. Conflicted about wanting to move on with life but also tempted by the mysterious Greg’s (played by Greg Canestrari) offer of getting to the bottom of his wife’s death. Reece clearly has talent, as he utilises Director of Photographer Tim Jolly’s extreme close-ups to great effect, showing a great depth of emotion without going over the top. It’s in these silent moments that we get to know our central character.
Meanwhile, Reece’s primary co-star Canestrari is a wonder. Whilst it’s difficult not to give away his character’s journey during the film, his performance is nuanced and fascinating. In fact, he often steals the scenes!
The second act deals with Alex coping with the truth surrounding his wife’s death. It’s an unusual move to reveal the killer so early on, but it does set up for some interesting interactions between our two principal leads, heading to a tense final third – culminating in a final shocking act of violence. Perhaps it’s in this second act that thriller junkies might feel let down as the tempo does drop. But it is in these scenes we see the impact that finding out the truth has on our characters, and on how they interact with each other. But this is what this film does really well, showing not just ‘whodunit’ but the impact that this has on those that this affects. It’s in these scenes that turn Prowler into more of a psychological thriller.
Prowler is a stylish, yet unsettling film, created in a large way by Director of Photography Tim Jolly. Using a bitter winter to his advantage, he turns the bright lights of the big city into a cold, unforgiving place. Long establishing shots of Alex looking out across the misty waters of the river highlight his isolation in this world that mistrusts him. His use of the extreme close ups creates a rawness in the characters and allows us as viewers to glimpse the inner psyche of the characters.
A big hit in this film is the score by Sam Lung. From the opening moments, Lung creates palpable tension. During the three defined acts of the film; the score really becomes the glue that holds the piece together, adding a rich layer to the film.
Independent films can often struggle with budget constraints, but utilising talent both behind the camera and in front shows how well it can all come together. Tense, suspenseful and downright creepy in parts, Prowler shows promise from such a young company. What will come next from Stock, Maiso, Jolly and the rest of the team at Tractorni? We can’t wait to find out!
Cineroom’s rating: 4 Stars
Distributed by MY Spotlight Entertainment and released on Amazon Prime in the UK and USA now.