Prey Goes Back to Basics and Delivers Exhilarating and Bloody Predator Film

The Predator and Amber Midthunder as Naru in 20th Century Studios’ Prey. Photo by David Bukach

Predator is a classic ’80s action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger who comes face to face with the alien hunter in the middle of a Central American jungle. As a whole, the franchise is known for pitting humans against deadly alien hunters, taking place on the streets of Los Angeles to an alien planet and back to Earth. Fans have seen their fair share of the franchise introducing stronger and deadlier Predators (whether they enjoyed them or not). With Prey, it’s a return to the basics where a warrior tries to survive a single Predator in the middle of the wilderness.

Amber Midthunder (Legion) plays Naru, a young and skilled Comanche warrior trying to prove herself to her tribe. Set during the 1700s in the Comanche Nation, a Predator, nicknamed Feral by the filmmakers, has been dispatched on the search for a worthy opponent.

The Feral Predator

Dane DiLiegro as the Predator in Prey. Photo by David Bukach/Courtesy of 20th Century Studios.

We’ve seen different Predators do what they do best, and that is to kill. With Prey, the Feral Predator still is a deadly threat, but it’s rough around the edges. The hunter tests itself against the harsh, wild environment, and it learns to adapt. We get to see it grow as a Predator, and it makes for an interesting journey that’s captivating once it goes on the rampage.

The design of the Feral Predator feels more primitive compared to the others in the previous films, whether it’s the weapons (still high-tech) or the bone-like mask. It still has the ability to turn invisible through optic camouflage and can see heat signatures through thermal vision.

There is some CG used to create the fast movements of the Predator, but for the most part, we get to see the hunter in all of its glory… meaning a man inside a suit. Dane DiLiegro dons the suit, and as the Predator, he looks menacing and his movements don’t look as clunky.

The Comanche Tribe

(L-R): Dakota Beavers as Taabe and Amber Midthunder as Naru in PREY. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios.

Amber plays the determined Naru, who will do anything to show her tribe that she is a capable warrior. The film has her dealing with all types of obstacles including carnivorous animals, foreign settlers, and mother nature. She will endure hardship before she is ready to face the Predator, and it’s a journey that feels similar to the first Predator film where Arnold’s Dutch sees everyone around him dying one by one, and he has to figure out a way to outsmart the alien creature. With a focus on Naru, the film also feels intimate and on a smaller scale, which heightens the tension.

Dakota Beavers portrays Taabe, Naru’s sister and a warrior. This is his first feature, and despite the lack of film credits, he was able to convey a warrior with a kind heart who cares for his sister.

The Buildup

Director Dan Trachtenberg centers the lens on Naru, and with an intimate journey, the film takes its time setting up her showdown against the Predator. The filmmaker also captures the daily life of the Comanche people including rituals and the gathering of food. Their world is brought to life beautifully thanks to the many designers and Jeff Cutter, the director of photography. The forest and landscapes all look gorgeous, and there’s a beautiful shot of the Predator spacecraft flying in the clouds as the camera pans down to Earth’s horizon. The filmmaker also holds back on the reveal of the alien hunter, only showing things when needed. This keeps the magic of the mystery and horror buildup from the first film.

Once the action starts, it doesn’t let up. The kill scenes from the Predators are brutal and bloody, and there are jaw-dropping moments as he slices and dices his way to his target.

Final Reaction

Prey is an exhilarating film and a worthy prequel to the Predator franchise. Amber Midthunder and Dakota Beavers are wonderful together as the Comanche warriors. The Predator is a menacing beast, and it was a fun journey seeing the alien grow as a hunter. The cinematography, pacing and action are outstanding.

Score: 4.5/5 Atoms

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