Time: 99 Minutes
Amber Midthunder as Naru
Dakota Beavers as Taabe
Dane DiLiegro as the Predator
Michelle Thrush as Aruka
Julian Black Antelope as Chief Kehetu
Stormee Kipp as Wasape
Bennett Taylor as Raphael Adolini
Director: Dan Trachtenberg
A skilled Comanche warrior protects her tribe from a highly evolved alien predator that hunts humans for sport, fighting against wilderness, dangerous colonisers and this mysterious creature to keep her people safe.
The Predator sequels tried to change things up with every instalment following the action hit from 1987. Predator 2 places the Predator in Los Angeles, Predators had all forms of human killers dropped onto an alien planet and hunted by the titular aliens, and The Predator made some misguided decisions as it attempted to build some sort of cinematic universe which went nowhere. However now we are getting a new instalment with the most unique approach, abandoning the 20th and 21st centuries altogether, and setting the movie back in the 18th century, focussing on a Comanche warrior fighting a single Predator. This premise already had my interest and it delivered. It really deserved to be on the big screen instead of dumped on a streaming services like Hulu and Disney+.
The story is very simple and straightforward. It strips down all the heavy lore that was present in the other Predator movies, makes it character focused, was a thrilling experience. You’re right there with the main character as she’s trying to go up against this powerful and deadly alien. The plot isn’t surprising, you’ve seen this kind of story before. However, the approach to the story made it succeed and make it feel fresh. The setting helps, much of it is relatively grounded. There aren’t any modern human weaponry, the only guns are the ones in the 18th century. I really liked the Comanche focus in the story too. It has a brisk runtime at about an hour and 40 minutes, and I think it works. It paces itself well, taking its time as the protagonist slowly understands how this alien operates. While it avoids having close ties to the other Predator movies, there is a couple unnecessary references and lines to the original, and they came across as jarring and forced. Something that will be immediately out of place is the fact that most of the dialogue from the Comanche characters are in English. However, I did hear afterwards that there is a Comanche dub option to make it more immersive in its cultural and historical representation, so it may be worth checking out that version.
The actors all play their parts very well, but the highlight is Amber Midthunder, who is phenomenal and believable as the lead character Naru. Much of the movie is told from her perspective and you are invested in her, helped by Midthunder conveying a lot without need to say much. Naru is also well written and she goes through an interesting and engaging journey.
10 Cloverfield Lane director Dan Trachtenberg did a fantastic job with Prey. He manages to keep a horror feeling throughout; there is a real sense of dread, and it never feels safe. It has a gorgeous setting, the landscapes are showcased well by the amazing cinematography, and the lighting looks very natural. The action was good, well-choreographed and does feature some brutal kills (as expected given the franchise it’s in). Most of the CGI works but it can be a little inconsistent at points, especially when it comes to the blood. The predator itself was great; the design is unique, primal and very intimidating. Finally, Prey is accompanied excellently by Sarah Schachner’s score which really adds to the tone and mood of the film.
Prey is a lean, brutal and effective action thriller, greatly directed, and excellently performed by Amber Midthunder. It’s a refreshing entry in the Predator franchise, and the best film in the series since the original. Even if you haven’t watched the first movie, I think you could watch Prey without any problems. I appreciate how fresh this movie feels and I wouldn’t be against seeing other Predator movies set in different time periods and locations in the way that Prey handled it.