By Matthew Sockol
With her first appearance in a feature-length film, a young woman from Tinton Falls is seeing her career as an actress grow.
Daniella Macolino, 25, appears as one of the leads of “The Prey”, an independent thriller. The film premiered at Montclair State University, Montclair, in December 2016 and was uploaded to YouTube this month.
Directed by Steven Horacio Flores, “The Prey” tells the story of Keller, a detective investigating the murders of patients of a psychiatric ward. Macolino portrays Elena Thompson, a girl who claims to be one of the murdered victims.
The film also stars Michael Ford as Keller and features a supporting cast of T.J. Fink, Antoinette Fasino, Paige Sciarrino and Neil Battinelli.
Currently a resident of Tinton Falls, Macolino resided in Long Branch before moving to the borough when she was 10. At an early age, she developed a passion for acting.
“When I was in fourth grade, I did a skit in front of my class as Little Miss Muffet and I remember having so much fun with it,” Macolino said. “After that, I got involved in the chorus and drama programs at school and that’s how my journey started. I absolutely fell in love with performing. I knew that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Macolino cited Johnny Depp as a key influence.
“Johnny Depp I consider to be my idol,” she said. “I love his work and admire him so much. He gets to portray all these different and fun characters and that is something I would love to do in my career. The amount of talent he has amazes me every time. And it is so funny because he didn’t even consider becoming an actor. He wanted to be a musician.”
The actress is also inspired by Tim Burton and Bruno Mars.
“To work with Tim Burton as well would be a dream,” Macolino said. “There isn’t a Tim Burton movie that I don’t like. Music plays an important role in my life too and those who know me know that I am obsessed with Bruno Mars.”
In “The Prey”, Macolino’s character is possessed by the spirit of a murder victim.
“(Elena) claims to be Mia Davis, a murdered victim from a massacre that opens up the film,” she said. “When we see Elena for the first time in ‘The Prey’, she appears in Mia’s dream and Mia’s spirit becomes trapped in Elena’s body.
“Throughout the film, my character tries to convince the people she crosses paths with that she is not who she appears to be as an even bigger threat forms around them,” Macolino said. “Elena uses her experiences in this dark and twisted town to help Detective Keller solve the case and capture the villain.”
Macolino sees similarities between herself and Elena.
“We are both fighters and we are determined to get what we want,” she said.
More information on “The Prey” can be found on Facebook at thepreyfeaturefilm