Review: Prey

Prey is a 2022 American period science fiction action film directed by Dan Trachtenberg and written by Patrick Aison, based on the Predator franchise by Jim Thomas and John Thomas.

It is the fifth installment in the franchise and a prequel to the first four films. It stars Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, Dane DiLiegro, Stormee Kipp, Michelle Thrush, and Julian Black Antelope.

Prey premiered at the San Diego Comic-Con on July 21, 2022, and was released by 20th Century Studios as a Hulu original film on August 5, 2022.

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 predators franchise has had a somewhat troubled history since the 1987 John McTiernan cult classic Predator starring Arnold Schwazeneger the sequels have been largely divisive and failed to re-kindle that success; most notably the controversial Alien V.S. Predator films and 2018s The Predator.

Although Prey is the fifth film in the franchise and is a prequel to Predator it is very much a fresh take on the franchise as we follow Naru (Amber Midthunder), a fierce and highly skilled warrior. She has been raised in the shadow of some of the most legendary hunters who roam the Great Plains, so when danger threatens her camp, she sets out to protect her people. The prey she stalks, and ultimately confronts, turns out to be a highly evolved alien predator with a technically advanced arsenal, resulting in a vicious and terrifying showdown between the two adversaries. It is a story of how humans can win out with craft and wit alone.

Whilst there are a few subtle nods & easter eggs to the other films in the franchise which will please fans these do not detract at-all from the story and it works perfectly as a stand-alone film on it’s own merits as well. The film features stunning cinematography from Jeff Cutter and the sweeping landscapes of the Southern Plains which almost becomes a character of it’s own and accompanied by subtle but effective score from Sarah Schachner.

It’s action packed but also incredibly reflective at times as we really get to know the character of Naru and her tribe on a personal level, it is not flashy but focuses on the small and human moments incredibly well acted by Midthunder.

The filmmakers were committed to creating a film that provides an accurate portrayal of the Comanche nationa and as result, the film features a cast comprised almost entirely of Native and First Nation’s talent. The film was shot in English and Comanche, with the entire cast performing an alternate all-Comanche dub of the film. Both language versions are available on Hulu and some consider the Comanche dub to be the most authentic way to watch the film although the default version features mostly english with occasional Comanche. This authenticity seems to have been a success and credit to the film-makers as it appears to be a largely respectful portrayal of the Comanche whist changing up some things to make for a more modern and compelling story. If you are going for representation then you need to go all the way and it seems largely to have worked here.

Somewhat staggering is Disney‘s decision to not release this film in theaters as aside from being visually stunning it has a story with universal appeal that had the potential to be one of the best box-office performers of the franchise.

4.5/5 – Trachtenberg pulls off a fresh new take on a dried-out franchise. 

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