Is Prey what we all expected out of a Predator movie? Absolutely not. Predator has had a rough go of it historically at the box office and critically. While most agree the first film is a masterpiece of the action/monster genre, some of the sequels after, and especially recently haven’t done as well. Prey takes a lot of lessons from those sequels and others in the genre to craft a tight action/horror film that gives massive props to the original and even some of the sequels. Prey streams on Hulu exclusively this Friday and comes from Director Dan Trachtenberg and Writer Patrick Aison. This is not your typical “origin story”, but it goes into the introduction of the Predator to the Comanche Nation around 300 years ago.
This is, however, one of the first times a Predator has landed on Earth. That means anything that the Predators after this point in time, learned from Naru and the other people in this story. That’s really the coolest part of Prey. You’re seeing the backbone and structure of the Predator series unfold before your eyes and it’s glorious. For the cast, they made the wonderful decision to only cast indigenous actors as members of the Comanche Nation in the film. I’ll get into the star Amber Midthunder later, but it also stars Dane DiLiegro as The Predator, Dakota Beavers as Taabe, Harlan Blayne Kytwathat as Itsee, Geronimo Vela, Mike Paterson, Julian Black Antelope, Stefany Mathias, Samuel Marty, and Stormee Kipp.
The Predator Is Finally Scary Again
If you were looking for the Predator to be more horror and less action, Prey is where it’s at. They’ve finally made the Predator scary again. This first-time Predator is not only menacing, but it looks terrifying. Between that, a bear attack, and white trappers showing up, there’s enough to get frightened about. Being that it’s set 300 years ago, the Predator has the utmost advantage over various muskets, bows and arrows, and spears. That leads to the best part of the original film coming up again: ingenuity. Dutch couldn’t use conventional weapons to fight the Predator, so he had to make due. Naru has to do the same thing here, and it’s beautiful.
Prey isn’t on the long side, it’s a little over an hour and a half long, but that tight runtime means that nothing gets wasted. Like the original, it feels almost like a different movie up until the Predator shows up. It takes a bit to get to that point, but once it does, it’s hot and heavy. Trimming all the fat around the edges of the film and just leaving it up to monster vs. woman is a stroke of genius from the crew on Prey.
Amber Midthunder Is A Full-Blown Action Star
It’s hard to explain all the reasons why Amber Midthunder’s turn as Naru is absolutely excellent here. She’s vulnerable, she doesn’t take any shit, she’s ingenious, and she holds her own against an intergalactic alien bred specifically to hunt others for fun. Some of the action scenes, particularly the bear chase and her various fights with the Predator are breathtaking. She follows in the footsteps of other final girls or action heroines like Ellen Ripley, Laurie Strode, and Furiosa here. The script offers up plenty for her to work with, and her chemistry with the rest of the cast, and even the Predator itself is on point. The fights with the Predator seem more like a ballet performance than anything else with Naru twisting, turning, ducking, and diving around the much larger and more formidable opponent.
The rest of the cast is also fantastic in what they do. Dakota Beavers’s performance as Taabe sets up Naru to succeed against the Predator later in the film. He’s brilliant in his fight on horseback against the Predator. Dane DiLiegro gives the Predator more of a slasher villain feel. It’s for the best because it just makes the monster that much scarier and more terrifying.
A Quick Note On Prey Being “Dumped On Hulu”
Do I wish that Prey was getting a theatrical release? Hell yes.
Does Prey being released on Hulu exclusively mean that it’s any less of a badass Predator film? Hell no.
The film isn’t being “dumped” on Hulu like some bad direct-to-video cash grab. Prey was filmed for streaming, and significantly raises the bar on what a streaming movie could be. It’s one of the most exciting takes on an existing horror/action property in years. So give it and the filmmakers the respect they deserve. We can complain about how it’s not released in theaters all we want, but it is by no means a lesser film because it’s released on streaming.
Other Monster Franchises Take Notes
If I was writing Alien or any other monster franchise right now, I would take some notes from Prey. Keep it simple, have a badass lead, and make the monster mean something. Prey brings the Predator franchise forward with all these changes and then some. When you cut out all the fat and bring it back to basics, turns out, it works really well. Prey recognizes that it’s a prequel that’s set 300 years before the original, so there’s no cinematic universe creating or trying to link up with future or previous films. Prey simply kicks ass for an hour and a half and then leaves. This is the Mad Max: Fury Road for the Predator franchise that finally makes the series scary and most important, fun again.
Prey releases on Hulu this Friday, August 5th.
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