“Prey”: Bears, Bows, Blood and Aliens


Source: 20th Century Studios

Will Teare

Director: Dan Trachtenberg

Starring: Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, and Dane Dilergo 

Release Date: August 5, 2022

Rating: 4/5 

This is everything I want out of a good action movie. Prey is one of many sequels to come out after the release of the smash hit 1987 action classic, Predator. Now, I am a fan of that first film, but according to a Predator expert friend of mine and the general consensus of moviegoers, every sequel is really bad. Therefore, I have not seen a single sequel nor do I ever plan to. But let me tell you, Prey is so good, I almost want to see all the others just to get more Predators in my life.

Prey is about Naru (Amber Midthunder), a Comanche hunter/warrior in training in 1719 on the Great Plains, just west of the Mississippi. Struggling to make a name for herself among a mostly male-dominated field of hunters, she sets out to kill some unknown beast that has been terrorizing her people. Naru sets out, armed only with a bow, a tomahawk, and her trusty canine companion to hunt down her prey and become the warrior she was destined to be. Except her prey isn’t just a prey, it’s a highly evolved alien only known as The Predator whose main priority is killing the most dangerous game for sport and Naru is next. 

I missed movies like this. A simple concept; high execution. What this movie is, is a simple “human vs. nature vs. aliens”, and that’s it! That’s all the movie is, but don’t mistake its simplicity for a lack of craftsmanship and fun, because it’s the simplicity that makes it so beautiful.

“Show don’t tell” is an extremely basic storytelling rule, but I feel like movies, at least blockbusters, have really lost that recently. Prey is different. When Naru is alone, she doesn’t speak at all. With just a crack of a branch, she raises her bow or hand signals to her dog. As she learns the rules that The Predator has in his twisted game of death, she doesn’t have an “aha moment”, and briefly says what she sees, we just see her face and know that she’s figured it out. I love a resourceful protagonist in these types of movies. It’s so cool to see the main character that’s a step ahead of The Predator and at many times, the audience, which makes things exceptionally engaging. 

Dan Trachtenberg engages the audience like this is his fifth, seventh, or maybe even tenth  film, it’s not. This is his second feature film ever. The first was the critically acclaimed 10 Cloverfield Lane, a spin-off/sequel to Cloverfield. Now, he took a stale IP and rejuvenated it for fans new and old. He even got people to say, almost unanimously, that Prey is nearly on par with the original. In other words, remember the name Dan Trachtenberg. Unlike other action directors, he has this fantastic awareness of when to let a movie breathe between action and it makes all the difference.

Now, this is all fun and sure it’s a blast, especially for action fans looking for a simple and fun summer movie…but it’s not without shortcomings. Some of the graphics don’t work, but I blame the budgetary restraints on an issue I’ll state in a minute. Additionally, this movie clocks in at about 1 hr and 40 min which honestly is a little too short. It’s not crazy fast-paced, but I think an extra 10 min of some more character moments or time dedicated to learning about this culture and the tribe might’ve been really cool. It gets by just fine on its own, but thematically, it’s quite shallow, and boosting that, even just setting up a simple idea, would’ve gone a long way. Maybe you could say the predator is a metaphor for Europeans coming to their land and killing them? That you could argue already happens in the film but it would be cool if they drove it home a little more.

The biggest issue is that this movie was put onto Hulu exclusively and not in theaters to “boost Hulu’s catalog.” This is code for Disney not wanting a 20th Century Studios film to be put on HBO MAX after a theatrical run, which they’re legally bound to do. Instead, they unceremoniously dropped on Hulu and probably cut the budget a little to break even, denying themselves what would’ve been a great time at the movies for their pockets and our collective enjoyment. But Disney has the streaming wars to win, so the audience and filmmakers are caught in the crossfire once again.

Otherwise, this is a really fun film with great direction, performances, visuals, action, and really just a great blockbuster to sink your teeth into and enjoy with a few buddies over a pizza on a summer night.