Prey Review – The Predator Movie We Deserve
<p dir="ltr">Hulu's Prey is a prequel that is 100% not a prequel to the 1987 classic action movie Predator. Throughout the years, filmmakers have tried to recreate the magic of the first movie using the sci-fi alien without much success. Prey is the first movie since the original that completely feels like a Predator movie, embracing the core of what the film is all about: hunting and being hunted.</p><p dir="ltr">Prey takes place 300 years in the past in the Comanche Nation, focusing on a group of indigenous hunters who are joined by tracker Naru (Amber Midthunder) on the Great Plains. Their camp is in danger so Naru and the other hunters set off to hunt down the threat, only to find it is a Predator--otherwise known as a Yautja--stalking them. Naru and her group are now the hunted and must fight back.
The film tells an incredibly simple story, which is exactly what you need for a Predator movie. Previous installments have gotten very bogged-down in lore and mythos–or trying to create an even scarier hybrid Yautja–but the core of this franchise is characters being stalked by an incredibly powerful and cunning force. Prey gets this right. This new film doesn’t need an exposition drop to deliver a good story. In fact, Prey proves simplicity is key with this series, allowing the audience to become fully engrossed in what’s happening. As viewers, we’ve spent the past few movies growing the Yautja lore, and now is the perfect time to just enjoy a thrilling sci-fi movie.
However, just because the story is simplistic at its heart doesn’t mean it is a throwaway movie. Director Dan Trachtenberg delivers an intense story that will keep the audience at the edge of their seats. Trachtenberg knows how to reel in the viewer–he was the director of 10 Cloverfield Lane, a film all about keeping the audience in suspense. While the story of Naru fighting for her role in the tribe as a tracker invests the audience in the character and her motivations, Trachtenberg’s directorial pacing creates a suspenseful movie.
As mentioned earlier, this is a prequel and is not a prequel at the same time. None of the characters here appear in any other Predator movie, and the Yautja here is unique to this movie. The promotion for the film is a little misleading in that aspect. It takes place in the US, but the first Predator movie took place in Val Verde–a fictional country in Central America. And Prey isn’t even the first time the Yautja has visited Earth, as it’s revealed in Alien vs. Predator that the alien species have been coming to Earth for thousands of years. This is the most nit-picky of critiques about this movie–it’s not as it seems–but it’s important to know this is another story involving humans and Yautja, and it’s very good.
Amber Midthunder is fantastic in her role as Naru. There is strength in her performance as a tracker who suddenly has to deal with the fact she’s not the one doing the tracking anymore–she’s now being hunted. There’s always a sense of urgency on her face, which is fitting given the situation she’s in. She’s a character you’ll be rooting for the entire time who shows an immense amount of strength and courage throughout the movie.
While there are many similarities between Predator or Predators–as the films revolve around people in forests getting hunted–where this film shines is that it primarily focuses on one person and the situation they are in. The movie is relatively silent, heightening moments of suspense, as Naru figures out what is coming after her. This movie is just as much about atmosphere as it is about the bloody violence that’s about to unfold.
Yes, this movie is violent and extremely graphic. It’s probably the most gory movie in the Predator franchise. There are numerous moments of violence that are unbelievable. You might find yourself asking, “Did they just do what you thought they did?” The answer is yes, they did and it’s incredible. The action sequences that contain them are some of the most memorable ones in the franchise. Without getting into details, there are a couple moments in this movie you’ll talk about with friends for years.
But what about the Predator design for this movie? Well, it’s very different. It’s more primal than anything we’ve seen in the past. If you’re a longtime fan of the Predator lore, digging into the movies, comics, and whatever else you can get your hands on, chances are you’ll like what’s presented. For those unfamiliar with Predator beyond a surface level, it may come off a bit confusing–even though we’ve never seen the same type of Predator twice in franchise history. Director Dan Trachtenberg told GameSpot that this Yautja is from another part of the Predator homeworld–a world made up of various cultures and Yautja types. So while the monster in Prey may seem weirdly primitive to us, its technology is just powerful, and the creature is just as terrifying.
The teched-down version may seem a tad contrived to fit the era, but it’s easily the scariest version of the species we’ve seen so far, and by the time the movie wraps up, that won’t even be a thought to you anymore. It’s not an unstoppable killing machine. It has weaknesses, and that’s apparent early on. However, the Yautja also won’t give up. It’s just as willful as the characters in the movie and won’t give up–which makes it even scarier.
The only real downside to the movie was that at times, the FX looked a bit rough–specifically a CG bear. A few moments seemed unfinished or unpolished. And thankfully there isn’t a ton of CG in the film, but when there it and it goes bad, it sticks out like a sore thumb. Luckily, many of the effects in Prey were practical.
After 2018’s The Predator barfed out another derivative hybrid-monster movie, it was nice to see Prey go back to the roots of the franchise. Prey is a movie about being hunted and rising to the occasion to help your people to fight off their attackers. It’s not trying to reinvent the wheel, but it does fit nicely into the Predator universe, firmly as the second best movie in the franchise.
p dir=”ltr”>Prey arrives on Hulu on August 5.