Prey decloaked on Hulu and Disney+ this weekend and to be honest, I didn’t give a shit. After the abomination of the last Predator movie I just didn’t care. It seemed impossible that a decent Predator movie was capable of being made. So it comes as an even bigger surprise that the House of Mouse has actually done it! And what a brilliant movie it is!
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) and written by Patrick Aison, Prey jumps back 300 odd years to a time where Comanche warriors still roamed their own lands. When I heard about this my interest was piqued, I won’t lie. Some part of me hoped that this fresh new perspective might work, and hell it really does. Having the Comanche trapped between French trappers and an alien hunter brings with it a new type of horror. One that feels there is no escape. It certainly adds to a feeling of claustrophobia!
If it bleeds, we can kill it
Naru, played by Amber Midthunder (Banshee), reminds me very much of Alloy in the critically acclaimed videogame series Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden West. She can throw an axe, shoot a bow, parkour and run as fast as a deer. She can also track, heal people and has the brains to figure our how technologically advanced equipment works. And yet she also manages to come across as being very human.
It would seem that if you are a Comanche woman, you are meant to be a healer. At least that’s the situation Naru finds herself in. However, Naru wants more; she wants to hunt like her brother, Taabe (Dakota Beavers). And hunt she does, of course.
The first 30 or so minutes are a great depiction of Comanche life. We see their societal structure, how they hunt and how they interact with each other. We’re also taken on a hunt for a lion who has attacked one of the tribe. Naru sees this as an opportunity to prove herself, and she very nearly does. She manages to wound the lion but is knocked out in the process. Taabe is then able to finish the hunt and return as a hero. I really liked this. Instead of having a female character suddenly beat her older brother in hunting, she fails. It makes her a lot more believable and gives her a credible motivation to excel later.
Back to basics
One of the reasons this film works is because it’s story goes back to its roots. Wits are what wins, not big muscles or even big guns. When asked about this, director Trachtenberg explained what his intents were for Prey. He says it’s…
the ingenuity of a human being who won’t give up, who’s able to observe and interpret, basically being able to beat a stronger, more powerful, well-armed forceTrachtenberg
The Predator is a dick
This Predator is a bit of a dick, if I’m being honest. I suppose it always has been. Hunting, while invisible, is not fair. Plain and simple. How that makes you a warrior is beyond me. This version of the Predator also has slightly less advanced tech as the first movie with Arni. For example, the 3 plasma ball canon thingy is replaced with bolts. And the helmet looks like it’s bone.
This is the first time Predators have come to earth. You figure that out as it catalogues different animals it kills while looking for a worthy opponent. it fights a bunch of wild fodder, from snake to wolf. The fight with a bear is one of my favourite scenes in the film and is so visually stunning it deserves to be watched over and over.
Another scene worthy of mention, is when the Predator cuts its way through a bunch of French voyagers (fur trappers). Using a variety of different weapons, it cuts and dices like a mad chef! It’s gorgeous to look at too. But that’s one thing this movie has heaps of, stunning visuals.
Prey is visually stunning
Cinematographer Jeff Cutter makes this action flick into an arthouse experience. Hell, the opening made me think of Blade Runner it was so well done. The visual effects are also great. I loved the way the Predator’s invisible cloak flickered when ash hit it, as well as when covered in blood!
The soundtrack and score is similarly impressive. Managing to pay homage to the Comanche people as well as adding a science fiction element. Just to note, Prey was filmed in 2 languages. English, and Comanche.
Prey Easter Eggs
There are some really nice nods in this movie. We’ve got Easter eggs, and we’ve also got actual, canon-related content that might mean we get a sequel to Prey. We even get the famous line ‘If it bleeds, we can kill it’. I was like, YES! I know where you got that from! While fist punching the air to the bemusement of my girlfriend (who loved the film). There is also a scene where one of the French voyagers gives Naru a gun with an inscription. That very gun appears in Predator 2, when Donald Glover is handed a trophy by the head Predator!
Prey end credit scene
Okay, this isn’t quite like a Marvel movie, with a 10 second scene we have to wait for. Instead, as the movie ends there is a cartoon in a drawing style like Comanche art. It basically shows you the entire movie, only right at the end, 3 Predator ships appear above the Comanche village. That last part is not in the movie, let’s hope it’s a hint at what might come later!
There really isn’t much that pissed me off in this movie. What could have become a Mary Sue of a movie, is more of a Ripley, which we can thank clever writing and Amber Midthunder’s performance for. I think one small niggle was how much damage the Predator could withstand. These things aren’t invulnerable, so having it’s own spear shoved through its torso should hurt a lot more!
Prey is a really well made movie. It blows away all the other versions of the science fiction monster and firmly puts itself side by side with the first movie.
I give Prey a solid…
Nick was kind enough to ask me to give my five beads on this movie. He’d be the first to tell you I hate woman. Not that it’s true but I confess that I had my reservations about this film. When the trailer landed, I was sceptical. Was this another pandering mess to appease the Twitter mob who never sees any of the movies made for them anyway? Would this drag the Predator franchise even deeper down to the depths of The Terminator and Robocop properties? All signs pointed to yes if you consider the last excuse of a movie. But let me say straight of the bat. It’s so good, they finally turned the franchise around!
With my cynicism at its peak, I sat down for disappointment. But then something magical happened. I watched a decent Sci-Fi/Horror movie that featured the Predator. The movie starts with Naru, a young Comanche woman trained as a healer who wants to emulate her brother Taabe, a great hunter in the tribe. There’s real brother and sister chemistry between Naru and Taabe. Together, they live with their tribe in 1716 with their widowed mother. Early in the movie we are shown just how skilled Naru is with weapons. She and her dog Sarii make a versatile team as seen when they almost fell a deer and Sarii proves to be a valuable companion through the movie.
The movie itself is shot in beautiful locations and the attention to detail, especially the Comanches is done very well. It feels like the sequel we’ve been waiting for after Predator 2. It’s unapologetically filled with buckets of blood and excellent actions scenes. Easter eggs are strewn about as well so look out for those. I “Prey” we get a sequel to this movie as I’ll gladly like to see Naru back in action. It’s not a perfect movie, but it’s as close to a perfect Predator movie that we could’ve hoped for.
I give the third Predator movie in the franchise (**** the others) a…