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average rating is 4 out of 5


Joe Beck


Posted on:

Jul 21, 2023

Film Reviews
Directed by:
Henry Owen Richardson
Written by:
Kai Hall, Henry Owen Richardson
Henry Owen Richardson, Kai Hall, Craig Wakefield

The found footage horror genre is an interesting one. After reaching international recognition in 1999 with the legendary ‘The Blair Witch Project’, a film of dubious quality itself, it has spawned numerous, lesser films such as ‘Paranormal Activity’ and ‘V/H/S’, films high on stupidity and low on acting and logical writing. Therefore, ‘Prowling’ comes as a pleasantly refreshing surprise, invigorating a stale and uninspired genre with fresh chills and suspense, though not through reinvention, rather through playing with previously established tropes to maximum effect.


A standalone sequel to last years ‘Lurking’, created by the same guys, ‘Prowling’ depicts your traditional figures of found-footage films - young filmmakers - the perennial victims. Naturally burdened by low budgets and an awareness of cinema and horror tropes, its only natural that these would be the only people filming in an abandoned forest in the middle of the night. In ‘Prowling’ this is Liam (Henry Owen Richardson) and Mark (Craig Wakefield), two film students scouting for locations to film their low budget student thriller film. They are rapt with excitement as they set out - thinking, as all do, that this footage could be used in future ‘The Making of…’ documentaries, à la the films of Spielberg, Scorsese, or Coppola.

Their guide is Daryl (Kai Hall), a man that immediately appears to them as dodgy, and whom neither have met before. Nevertheless, Daryl promises an amazing shooting location, and so Liam and Mark follow him into the forest, trusting that they’ll be in and out before the night properly falls. There isn’t anything too disturbing about Daryl - other than his worrying lack of film knowledge - rather he’s just a bit of an outsider, an annoying presence against the unity of Liam and Mark. However, as darkness falls tensions between the three grow - with the conflicting desires to return or to go on, and the unnerving discovery of missing person posters scattered throughout the forest.


‘Prowling’ is, at least for the genre, a surprisingly smart film in how it builds tension. It doesn’t do anything to transgress the traditional story of these kinds of films, yet nonetheless, adeptly builds suspense through a combination of Henry Owen Richardson’s direction, which has a surprising amount of verve and doesn’t feel confined by the found footage model, as it does so often in other films, and the tenacity of Kai Hall and Richardson’s script, which both presents the characters as easily relatable and leaves no fat or exposition. Another surprise is the competent performances by the three young men at the forefront of the film, who are all instantly believable - as young filmmakers themselves - and have genuine chemistry with one another. Though occasionally it falters into illogical missteps - i.e. not simply walking down the side of the motorway or not begging the grumpy farmer to call the police - this is nonetheless a clever film, and one that slyly pays homage to defining filmmakers such as John Landis and Neil Marshall.


‘Prowling’ is a pleasant surprise, standing out amidst a crowd of subpar found-footage films as one that is genuinely chilling, clever, and well-made.

About the Film Critic
Joe Beck
Joe Beck
Indie Feature Film
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