Prey ★½

Fans of Lewis Teague’s “Cujo” will likely find the premise of “Prey” to be attractive: a quadriplegic in a wheelchair (Paula del Río) is hunted by a dog infected with rabies. She is trapped inside a house while the dog attempts to find ways to get inside. The smart and well-trained dog was meant to ease her transition to a life of disability. And a case can be made that by end of the story, it has succeeded. Like the 1983 creature feature classic, the infected animal is a symbol of unresolved conflict the protagonist is forced to face. Elena wishes to die not only because she feels the body she inhabits is no longer hers, she is racked with guilt over her twin sister’s death. After all, Elena, while under the influence of drugs, was driving during the car crash. But the screenplay by Yako Blesa and José Luis Montesinos (who directs) is bogged down with one too many dream and hallucinatory sequences. Instead of a propulsive race to the finish line, we are handed a horror-thriller with massive dead zones—five- to ten-minute blocks that are not only uninteresting, they communicate the same ideas. One gets the impression that the writers lack the imagination, daring, and resourcefulness to create a highly compact man versus nature story. Even the look of the rabid Belgian Shepherd pales by comparison to the rabid St. Bernard. In “Cujo,” when the animal gets real close to the camera, we can taste its pungent stench. We marvel at its sheer size. In this film, we are required to squint in order to detect the grime, sweat, blood, froth. These elements should be front and center.