Written and Directed by Jeffrey W. Tenney
Starring Bryant Turnage, Andie Bottrell, Teri Austin, Aaron Campbell, Maxine Whittaker, Kolyn Marshall, David Logan, Caroline Mitchell
Indie Film Review by Chris Olson
Medieval adventure film, The Raven's Prey, from filmmaker Jeffrey W. Tenney contains the main elements of a good fantasy/mythical movie, and sets about entertaining audiences on a big scale. Regrettably the scale and ambition of the film are not in harmony with the on set skills or the indie film budget.
Set amongst the green pastures of some unknown kingdom, The Raven's Prey opens with a sinister abduction of a woman, who is being hunted by unscrupulous locals. In order the quell the rebellion going on in her own lands, the queen (Maxine Whittaker) sends her skilled Principal (Bryant Turnage) into the thick of it. What he discovers is a community torn apart by violence and religious fanaticism...I think.
Utilising archaic dialogue and costumes, there is a pleasing tone to Tenney's indie film that at the very least will appeal to the LARPing crowds. The music, from Michael Ray Gould and Molly Healey, is, at times, one of the best aspects of the film. It had an authenticity to it which is admirable for a genre like this and worked well to stitch the sequences together.
Ironically, the music in the film is pretty good but the sound design is shockingly bad. Whether this will get fixed in post (UK Film Review may have been privy to an earlier version) remains to be seen but as it stands, too many scenes suffer from dubbing and volume issues. Which brings us onto a more fundamental problem with The Raven's Prey which is the amateurish nature of numerous elements.
Unless you have the experience or budget, filmmakers should generally steer clear of: choreographed sword fights, storylines with armies, blood-gushing wounds and anything similar. Unfortunately all of these things appear or are mentioned during The Raven's Prey. The outcome is a lot to tedious melodrama and awkward routines that would be better suited to a village playhouse than a cinematic endeavour. On the sliding scale of fantasy films, where The Lord of the Rings is one end and The Last Airbender is on the other, this film fails to get on the scales at all.
I want to bring this film review back to a few more positives, though, simply because I admire the attempt that was made. Rarely do low-budget movies attempt such a long running time and a genre as difficult as fantasy, so hats off to the filmmakers for taking a stab at it. But the lessons here are to be wary of overreaching when you don't have the chops or cash.
Watch the official Movie Trailer for The Raven's Prey