Uncaged [Prooi] (2016)

uncaged

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A lion is on the prowl in the latest horror film from the Dutch maestro Dick Maas.

When a family outside of Amsterdam is viciously killed by what could be a wild animal, Amsterdam Zoo’s Lizzy Storm is asked by the police to investigate along with detective Olaf Brinkers. She determines that the animal responsible must be a lion. However, the police want to keep it hush in order to ensure the safety of the civilians. However, when a man is mauled at a golf course followed by a futile attempt to kill the lion which results in the beast killing everyone inside a tram, the police find themselves left with no other choice but to announce that that there is a lion and that everyone must stay indoors.

Lizzy recommends to the police a big game hunter out of England, Jack Delarue. Jack also happens to be Lizzy’s ex-boyfriend, which causes problems with Lizzy’s current boyfriend, TV cameraman Dave. When Jack arrives, he is revealed to be disabled, having lost a leg from a previous lion attack. Jack still has some feelings for Lizzy, but Lizzy wants to repair her relationship with Dave and Jack respects that. However, what’s more important is that Jack must find a way to stop the ferocious lion before it kills more people in Amsterdam.

You have got to hand it to Dick Maas, the Netherlands’ answer to John Carpenter. His horror films have been gems and cult classics among fans around the world, despite being a versatile filmmaker. His latest horror film, originally released in 2016 as Prey [Prooi], finally comes Stateside with a pretty decent re-titling.

The cast is quite interesting in terms of more relationships rather than character development, which is not needed so much here. Sophie van Winden, who has a striking resemblance to Naomi Watts (who starred in Maas’ remake of The Lift, Down, in 2001), is great as Lizzy, the zoologist who helps the police with their investigation in the series of brutal killings from the lion. Julian Looman brings a sense of comic relief and a sense of uncertainty in terms of his relationship with Lizzy as TV cameraman Dave. Rienus Krul’s Blinkers reminds me of Serge-Henri Valcke’s Vermeer in Maas’ most famous film, Amsterdamned, the cop who seems to be more fodder despite having some good ideas.

Mark Frost comes in well mid-way through the film as British game hunter Jack, whose intro comes with being slumped down in his wheelchair. Much of the shock comes in the fact that he’s disabled, having lost a leg from a previous lion attack. He provides more of a drunken comic performance and not someone who tends to want to take his job seriously. However, he soon proves his mettle when it comes down to game time and he;s ready to hunt, equipped with an amazing electrified tank-wheelchair machine.

The special effects, considering the budget used, are quite nicely done. The lion chases are obvious CGI but for close up shots and deaths, leave it to Rob and Erik Hillenbrink to do a great job. The team worked on Maas’ previous horror effort Saint, and they upped the bloody goodness here. Maas goes no holds barred and even brings one of his tropes in a vital scene that helps sets up the finale: the hanging upside-down corpse. What’s even more great is that just when you think the movie is over, Maas ends up with a very unpredictable twist that may you think one thing but goes an entirely different route.

Uncaged is a welcome horror film from the maestro Dick Maas. A great cast, complicated relationships, and the special effects are nicely done considering its budget, mixing both CGI and practical effects. Another winner for Maas!

WFG RATING: A-

Shooting Star Pictures and Parachute Pictures present a Czar Film/Dutch Filmworks/SBS Productions film. Director: Dick Maas. Producers: Dave Schram, Maria Peters, and Dick Maas. Writer: Dick Maas. Cinematography: Lennert Hillege. Editor: Bert Rijkelijhuizen.

Cast: Sophie van Winden, Julian Looman, Mark Frost, Rienus Krul, Pieter Derks, Victor Low, Britte Lagcher, Abbey Hoes, Kees Boot, Mattijn Hartemink, Rutger de Bekker.

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