- Amber Midthunder, Dane DiLiegro, Harlan Blayne Kytwayhat
- Directed by
- Dan Trachtenberg
- Written by
- Patrick Asion
- Running Time
- 1 hr 39 min
- Release Date
- Aug. 5, 2022
The Predator as a character turns 35 this year. And much like it’s older sibling, one that it’s forced to play with from time to time, the xenomorph from the Alien series. They usually have trouble nailing either type of film for the most part.
After the John McTeirnan original that took the Jaws approach and set it in the jungle with a bunch of mercenaries verses the ultimate hunter, most filmmakers have failed to capture that magic for an entire film. There are still memorable moments from the sequels like the ending of Predator 2 and the incredible opening of 2010’s Predators. When it works, it’s usually how a particular character reacts and interacts with the Predator. Much like it did in the first film. It seems director Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) has seen what has and hasn’t worked over the years. And along with writer Patrick Asion has not only gone back to the drawing board, but has gone way way back in history, some 300 years back to tell the story of their new film Prey.
It is 1719, and a Comanche tribe is living off the land and away from a modern world that is slowly closing in on them. Naru (Amber Midthunder) is a young hunter who unlike the rest of the women, does not want to just cook and care for kids but wants to hunt along with the young men in the tribe. Taabe (Dakota Beavers) can see Naru’s skills and talent for hunting and encourages her, but tells her she is not ready to join the hunting parties. Soon the familiar camouflage appears in the forest and animals are being killed and skinned. Naru and her tribe eventually encounter a Predator (Dane DiLiegro) and now must fight for survival as they have become prey to this creature with an advanced arsenal and superior skills.
When I first heard that there was a new Predator film coming out, I was excited and then shortly after disappointed as I learned it was going directly to streaming. The majority of films that are released this way now are usually akin to the direct-to-video films of the 90’s. They are shot with cameras and stuff, but the quality of the acting and effects are not like what you see on the big screen. Since this has no known actors and a director whose last feature film was six years ago, I feared this would befall the same fate as most of the fare we’ve been exposed to. I am so relieved to report that this is not the case. Prey is incredible! This is one of the rare straight-to-streaming that deserved a theatrical release. But the upside is now more eyes will get to watch this film that may have not gone all the way out to the theater to see.
Midthunder as Naru is fantastic in this, her first starring role. She keeps pace with the rest of the male cast intent on overshadowing her character. With her huge eyes that take in all the beauty of the earth and then suddenly seeing the terror inflicted by this alien from another planet. She is truly a presence on screen. DiLiegro as the Predator is also impressive. He has the familiar movements we’ve seen in Predators past, but is more primal as he takes on bears and hunters alike in brutal fashion. You can still see that not much was given as far as budget to things like CG animals, which are always challenging to make look good. Instead time and effort was focused on the characters and the world. Trachtenberg takes a unique approach as he injects many quiet moments amidst the intense action.
You get to live and feel with this Comanche warrior as she navigates her surroundings. A brilliant decision was also made to constantly flip the dynamic of who is predator and who is prey throughout the film. Even if you know where it’s all headed, you can’t help but be completely invested in the characters and this story. It harkens back to what made the original Predator so special and the film by which all other films baring the name had to live up to. It’s fair to say that Prey is the closest that anyone has ever come to, both in tone and thrills that this series has seen since 1987.