Prey (2022) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Prey (2022) Review

Horrorific content by adrian on August 08th, 2022 | Movie Review | Alien, Survival, Female Revenge, Sci-Fi, Drama, Wilderness, Thriller

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It's about Naru, a skilled female warrior, who fights to protect her Comanche tribe against one of the first highly-evolved Predators to land on Earth, 300 years before the events of the 1987 film.

Prey was directed by Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) and stars Amber MidthunderDakota BeaversDane DiLiegroStormee KippMichelle ThrushJulian Black Antelope (Don't Say Its Name, Knuckleball), Stefany MathiasNelson LeisBennett Taylor, and Mike Paterson.

Prey (2022) Review

Prey is the latest movie in a franchise that has been having difficulty succeeding after the box office flop of its second film. However, following two clashes with Xenomorphs from the Alien movies and a visit to the creature's homeland, the studio behind The Predator is looking to the past for inspiration to move the franchise forward.

Naru is a Comanche woman who wishes to demonstrate her hunting prowess like her brother Taabe. In addition, she is an accomplished healer but wants to branch out and show her skill in other areas. Naru sees what she believes to be a Thunderbird in the dark, overcast sky one morning as she is practicing her skills. But, we, of course, know better.

Shortly after, one of the tribe's hunters is gravely injured, presumably by a mountain lion. They set out to hunt it, but it becomes clear to Naru that another hunter is in the forest, and her hunting band is its prey.

Prey's opening feels similar to Aliens, where the protagonist Naru has to gain the trust of a group of skeptical warriors. They don't believe her when she says there's something strange lurking nearby. The movie does an excellent job of gradually building suspense, with some eerie scenes of the Predator hunting at night. Just enough scenes are included of the Predator encountering creatures in the forest, such as snakes and wolves, to remind viewers what they're watching and what the Predator is capable of.

Around the thirty-minute mark, director Dan Trachtenberg and writer Patrick Aison present two very different aspects of the film's horror. The first is a full view of the Predator cleaning the skull of the wolf it killed. The second is a field full of bison killed by trappers for their hides, with their bodies and meat left to rot--something neither Naru nor her alien nemesis can understand.

Trappers are the vile villains in Prey. They kill for money and will trade in other humans without a second thought. They break the code that the Predator lives by - only hunting creatures that can fight back.

Still, Prey only really takes off closer to the hour mark, which is just a bit too long. I started getting impatient, especially since I expected it to happen a few times earlier in the film. Although it takes a while for the Predator to face off against anyone, there are several bloody setpieces once it does. First, the creature faces off against a Comanche hunting party, and then later, in a long and satisfying brutal battle, against the trappers.

The battle against the trappers features Easter Eggs hidden in Prey. In this scene, one of the alien weapons emits flying discs that look like metallic versions of the organic weapons used by the creature in Without Warning. This alien-hunting-humans film predates Predator by seven years and also featured Kevin Peter Hall in the monster suit.

DiLiegro's Predator is a refreshing take on the iconic creature, featuring a new design and a diverse array of weapons. The new Predator still has access to high-tech weaponry, but for this film, they focused more on bladed and melee weapons. This could be because the more recent gear hasn't been invented or because its prey has less advanced tools to fight back. My favorite weapon looks like a meaner, more deadly version of the iron fan often seen in Asian martial arts films. It can decapitate a man and slice through the tree behind him.

Key stunt rigger Ty Trand and his team did a fantastic job with the fight scenes, including the showdown between Naru and the Predator. In addition, cinematographer Jeff Cutter did an excellent job of making the surroundings look menacing, whether it was the lush green woodland or the desolate remains of a burnt-out forest. Some of the CGI blood and body parts are rather poorly done, however, and take away from the scenes.

I can see why the studio decided to send Prey straight to Hulu rather than give it a theatrical release. The franchise has had trouble in the past, and there aren't many big names attached that would help draw in an audience. Midthunder may be recognizable from her television roles, but the only other actor I recognized was Julian Black Antelope, who had a small part as Chief Kehetu.

Worth Watching? 

Prey may have had a slow start, but it is still a great addition to the franchise and one of the best creature features in recent years.

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