HOW DARK THEY PREY | ©2022 Film Valor

HOW DARK THEY PREY | ©2022 Film Valor

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: Marc Lubbers, Josiah Schneider, Samuel Pygatt, James M. Reilly, Timothy Paul Jobe, Jeff Ronan, Paul Pallotta, Kelsey Nichole Black, David Polgar, Alisha Spielmann, David Johnson
Writers: Adam Ambrosio and Jamison L. LoCascio, “Nelly” story by Anthony LoCascio Directors: Jamison L. LoCascio (“Harrowing,” “Blood Beach,” and “Nelly”) and Adam Ambrosio (“Encounter Nightly”)
Distributor: Film Valor
Release Date: September 15, 2022

When filmmakers have next-to-no-budget and are still determined to make a movie, one way to save money is to have much of the action take place in the exposition, and/or just off-screen. This is the case with HOW DARK THEY PREY, a four-episode horror anthology that encompasses U.F.O. reality shows, a World War II standoff, a lakeside encounter, and a parody that blends THE TWILIGHT ZONE and THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE.

Adam Ambrosio directed the U.F.O. opener (entitled “Encounter Nightly”) and Jamison L. LoCascio directed the other three. Both are credited with the screenplay, with Anthony LoCascio contributing the story for the final segment, “Nelly.” We open off the main drag of a suburban street. A handheld camera provides p.o.v. as we enter a garage that’s full of old office furniture, along with chainsaws and duct tape. We then cut to a darkened room with burning candles. Viewers who get motion sickness from shaky-cam will be glad to know that the handheld p.o.v. has been replaced by conventional cinematography. We hear but don’t see a man pledging himself to “the gods of old.” It sounds like he kills a woman, and then doesn’t get quite the desired results. It’s a bit of a stretch, but we can just about figure out how this connects to each of the four main sections, and how they connect to one another.

Given how dialogue-heavy HOW DARK THEY PREY is in other aspects, it seems like a few extra lines could have been added to make this clearer. “Encounter Nightly” takes its time getting to its destination, and then ends almost too quickly. A few beats of escalation would have provided more punch. “Harrowing” is perplexing in that we truly cannot determine if we’re meant to infer something from the fact that the American military uniforms don’t look right for the WWII period, or if this is a production glitch. There is one very strong notion in the piece, but it lingers unnecessarily on its middle section. “Blood Beach” is clearly set in the present.

As it relies so much on conversations between lonely young Kevin (Josiah Schneider) and avuncular fisherman Leon (Marc Lubbers), it feels like a one-act stage play, although it does contain HOW DARK THEY PREY’s biggest special effect. “Nelly” has beautifully realized black-and-white cinematography, with LoCascio also handling d.p. duties.

The content and tone, though, don’t come together to be either funny or creepy. Ambrosio contributes a strong, atmospheric horror score.

HOW DARK THEY PREY demonstrates both innovations and limitations that can form an ultra-low-budget feature. More potent scripts are required for this to work (of course, this is true of big-budget features as well). For aspiring filmmakers, this project may be more instructive than entertaining.

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Article: Movie Review: HOW DARK THEY PREY

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