The first scene of Terror on the Prairie shows three outlaws, Long Hair (Tyler Fischer, Jr. Lab Ratz, Giving Up), The Kid (Gabriel Kane Day-Lewis, Adolphe), and Gold Tooth (Heath Freeman, Dark Was the Night, The Seventh Day), beating a man. Their leader, Captain Miller, or just “The Captain” (Nick Searcy, The Shape of Water, The Assassination of Richard Nixon), reads from the Bible as they do, then joins in the violence and scalps their victim.
Elsewhere Jeb (Donald Cerrone, The Commando, Project Legion) and Hattie (Gina Carano, Scorched Earth, The Mandalorian) McAllister are struggling to feed themselves and their family. She’s had enough and wants to go back to St. Louis. He decides to go into town to get supplies and look for work, leaving her, Will (Rhys Becker), and their baby Beth alone. He hasn’t even left yet when The Captain and his men arrive.
The situation in this new video from The Daily Wire, directed by Michael Polish (Big Sur, Force of Nature) and written by Josiah Nelson (Dirty Little Deeds), is not all that dissimilar from that in their previous film, Shut In. A violent home invasion forces a single mother to defend herself and her young children.
Before the siege starts, the usual character-building takes place. Hattie married Jeb and moved west against the wishes of her wealthy family. When she helps a group of Native Americans, one of whom needs medical care, we see how capable and kind she is. Even The Captain and his men are welcomed until she sees the heads hanging from his saddle. We also get two important hints about why they are there in the first place. Since it’s not just a coincidence.
Most of the second act of Terror on the Prairie is talk, with a few attacks on Hattie’s cabin, which she manages to stop even though she’s not a good shot. The action is set up well enough, but it doesn’t have much style. To keep things interesting, Mr. Samuelson’s (Matthias Hues, I Come in Peace, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich) neighbour dies in a rather bloody way when he shows up at the wrong time.
Terror on the Prairie is advertised as a western thriller instead of an action movie, and the middle of the movie, which is like a siege, lives up to that billing. There is just too much time in between attacks for the tension to stay high.
Cerrone is also barely in the movie, even though his name is on the poster. In the first act, he goes to town. He doesn’t show up again until the last twenty minutes of Terror on the Prairie, and he doesn’t fight until the last ten. Carano is in almost every scene of the movie, but she fights with a gun or knife instead of her hands and feet.
And her fighting skills are what make her stand out from other actresses who look tough and know how to use a gun. She wasn’t a very good actress in Scorched Earth, and she hasn’t changed much in the last four years. Except for Searcy and Hues, who each have about five minutes of screen time, most of the actors are unknowns, and that’s probably how it will stay.
Terror on the Prairie is a movie that is fun to watch but easy to forget. It has some good parts, but they get lost in a sea of boring parts. I’d heard that the violence in the movie was brutal, but it’s pretty much PG-13 stuff. Even the scalping looks like a latex appliance being pulled back. It’s not the Maniac-style chaos I was expecting from all the talk.
The Daily Wire website subscribers can get Terror on the Prairie right now. I don’t know when or if it will be legal to buy it somewhere else. Check JustWatch to see if it’s available, and use FilmTagger to find something to watch while you wait.