Prey is the best thing that’s happened to the Predator franchise since the original movie, but it also can stand on its own as a compelling fight between a native woman trying to prove herself and a technologically-advanced alien.
This review of the Hulu film Prey (2022) does not contain spoilers.
It’s safe to say that Prey (2022) is not where anyone expected the Predator franchise to go next. The latest installment in the series started by Jim Thomas and John Thomas serves as a prequel to the other four films. Directed by Dan Trachtenberg and written by Patrick Alson, Hulu’s Prey is set on the Northern Great Plains in 1719 as a young woman of the Comanche Nation comes face to face with an early version of the alien Predator (Dane DiLiegro).
Naru (Amber Midthunder) is a young and talented woman, determined to prove herself as a warrior to the men in her tribe who doubt her abilities, including her other brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers). While out hunting one day, she believes that she saw the arrival of a thunderbird in the sky – but she really witnessed a Predator ship. She joins a party of hunters tracking a missing warrior who was attacked by a mountain lion.
While out in the woods, Naru is convinced that there’s something more sinister than a mountain lion lurking around. The film excellently builds tension as she attempts to hunt down the being that the audience knows is the highly dangerous Predator. She and her brother are both eventually captured by French traders, presenting another dangerous alien invasion to their land.
Midthunder is an excellent protagonist, both vulnerable enough and skilled enough to keep the audience constantly enthralled. The action sequences are impressive and varied, from battles against the wilderness – including a bear, a wolf, and a mud pit – to those against the monster himself. There’s certainly no lack of gore and the Predator’s advanced technology is even more frightening compared to the Comanches’ more basic weapons.
It’s the sensitive and detailed portrayal of the Comanche nation that sets Prey apart from most other films of its genre. Producer Jhane Myers is a member of the Comanche nation herself and certainly helped ensure an accurate depiction of their ways of life. From the dress to the food preparation to the body paint, exacting attention to detail was made. Costume designer Stephanie Porter and makeup department head Samantha Rumball ensured that the imagery was based in truth (and surely practicality for filming action scenes) rather than stereotypes.
In addition to this dignified portrayal of the Comanche people, the filmmakers have made a Comanche language dub of the film which is available on Hulu. They ultimately decided to use English in the main version of the film but wanted to also have a way to watch it in the language that the characters would have been using. It’s an impressive and laudable step towards representation and well worth watching in the Comanche language (with English subtitles).
In setting the prequel three hundred years before the original film, Prey escapes many of the issues with franchise movies. There are no cheesy attempts to cash in on nostalgia, though there are plenty of nods for fans of the previous films. However, it’s equally watchable for someone who has no experience with the franchise at all. Prey is not only one of the strongest action films of 2022 thus far, but it’s also the best offering in the Predator franchise since the original film.
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