You Won’t Have to Prey (2022) Any Longer for a New, Great Predator Film
First Non-Festival Release: August 5, 2022 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Writer: Patrick Aison
Runtime: 99 Minutes
Starring: Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, Dane DiLiegro
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Something is hunting the Comanche Nation tribe in the upper Midwest in the 1700s. Naru (Amber Midthunder) is determined to prove herself the warrior she knows herself to be despite her brother Taabe’s (Dakota Beavers) insistence otherwise. While stalking what her tribe believes to be a mountain lion, Naru makes the startling discovery that something much worse is out there. She must contend with the elements, fur trappers, and her own people in her quest to rid her land of the predator determined to vanquish all those that get in its way.
An exceptional prequel with heart and grit, Prey is both a cinematic marvel and crowd-pleasing horror action triumph.
Even before the Predator emerges from the forest, Prey is already an intense and captivating film. Naru’s journey in becoming a hunter is the primary vehicle for telling this updated version of Predator. Even without the alien menace, her quest to prove herself to everyone is compelling enough already. Once the stakes get elevated even higher, it becomes an all-out brawl between various forces, both celestial and human.
Affable leads and strong characterization set up Prey to be an exceptional horror movie with a solid emotional core. Amber Midhunter delivers a mesmerizing performance as a young woman wanting to prove herself to her family, community, and herself. Midhunter brings a certain determination and grit to Naru. Naru’s emotional journey is aided by the noticeable fire in Midhunter’s eyes. Her transformation into a more self-assured and resourceful fighter showcases both Naru’s strength and intellect, which is the true weakness of the overconfident alien invader.
Newcomer Dakota Beavers handles the confidence and charisma of Taabe with finesse. He balances the bravado with genuine concern for Naru’s wellbeing and a brotherly love to do right by her even when he feels like she is putting herself in danger. He brings excellence to the intense fight and chase sequences while bringing measured coolness to Naru’s quest.
Getting back to the roots of what makes the Predator franchise special, Prey takes a huge risk with its setting which pays off in dividends. Deciding to take the film back centuries allows the stakes to change without altering the series timeline. It also gives the creators more freedom to explore the possibilities of the franchise by giving its characters restrictions on weaponry and technology while also passing the mic to underrepresented groups. Ultimately, this decision is likely to make waves in Hollywood due to the streaming success of Prey. Suddenly, stories that seemed “out of reach” or “niche” could break the spell that modern remakes, reimaginings, and sequels have been under for decades.
Beyond the scope of its well-crafted story and stacked cast, Prey is simply a well-made movie. The fight choreography is not only beautiful but deeply kinetic. Every scene that features some type of combat evolves into a captivating dance of life and death. Sometimes they end in death, other times in skin of the teeth escapes. The understanding of dynamics in these scenes allows for the film to maintain its crisp momentum throughout the feature without getting bogged down by anything. Immaculate set design and special effects work build the lethal terrain of the northern Great Plains, both extraterrestrial and not. The updated Predator design is terrifying without changing up too much of what makes it iconic, which is welcome to long-time fans and curious newcomers.
Easily the best iteration of the Predator universe since the original, Prey proves itself beyond worthy for its commitment to storytelling and tight, horror action. Beautifully filmed and located, it is impossible to tell when watching Prey that it was always meant to be a straight to streaming horror film. Between its impressive fight choreography and excellent effects work, Prey has all the workings of a big budget Hollywood summer spectacle. Perhaps its greatest strength comes in the form of its stellar cast. Amber Midthunder and Dakota Beavers give excellent nuanced performances that showcase the fire that drives the intergalactic hunters mad with the desire of conquest. It’s rare for new entries in a decade’s old franchise to do more beyond cashing in on name recognition, but Prey eclipses those expectations to create a new standard and direction for horror reimaginings.
Overall Score? 8/10