Prey (2022)
Prey (2022)

Genre: Sci-Fi Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 39 min.

Release Date: August 5th, 2022 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Dan Trachtenberg Actors: Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, Harlan Blayne Kytwayhat, Mike Paterson, Julian Black Antelope, Stefany Mathias, Nelson Leis

 


 

“A

long time ago, it is said, a monster came here …” 300 years ago (set in 1719), Comanche warrior Naru (Amber Midthunder) lives in the Northern Great Plains, foraging and hunting in the dense woods with her tribe. As a woman, she’s expected to do primarily domestic chores, but she prefers to sharpen her tomahawk and hone her skills with wielding it as a deadly weapon – and she’s almost on the verge of successfully killing deer with it. So when she spies the “thunder bird” in the sky, she tells her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) that she’s ready to face her personal rite of passage, to be accepted as a champion in combat.

“You want to hunt something that’s hunting you?” The children’s myth of the thunder bird is actually a Predator – an extraterrestrial trophy-hunting species that comes to Earth from time to time to slaughter humans and other animals for sport. “Prey,” with its signature title-graphic styling, is clearly part of the Predator film franchise, here serving as a prequel that presents one of the first human interactions with the lethal creatures. And though it isn’t original, since the John McTiernan entry from 1987 first introduced nearly all the same components of these now-classic movie monsters, this derivation is considerably faithful in tone and atmosphere and content.

“I don’t think it was a bear.” With the nature of trailers and advertising, there’s no ability to conceal the main premise, so the initial stalking and other telltale signs of Predator activity (including the invisibility armor, the heat-signature vision, the clicking sound effects, and skinned corpses) begin immediately. It’s never a mystery as to what is lurking in the surrounding wilderness. However, the setting is engaging (particularly with its historical elements), along with the costuming, props, makeup, and casting, which all carry a certain authenticity – or, at least, a striking filmic quality. The cinematography, too, though overly dark at times, captures some breathtaking landscapes. Plus, the music by Sarah Schachner is exhilarating.

Curiously, there’s an abundance of CG animals onscreen as the early stages of the film adopt a vibe similar to “10,000 BC.” But once a few fake, animated interactions are out of the way, the bulk of the plot pairs off Naru against her hi-tech quarry – while also throwing in some amusing environmental hazards (some of which nod to the 1987 release), the nagging disbelief of her compatriots, and additional adversaries of the era. All of it is appropriately approached with deadly seriousness and oodles of graphic bloodshed, entirely in line with the previous episodes. Occasionally, the violence is over-the-top and augmented by unconvincing visual effects, but it generally pairs nicely with the action and suspense.

Pitting the Predator’s advanced technology against primitive weaponry isn’t exactly sporting, though the monster is undoubtedly outnumbered. Yet a few clever tricks do arise, proving that being physically outmatched (and outsized) isn’t an issue for the intellectually innovative; Naru’s societal status as less-capable than her male counterparts plays well against her burgeoning formidability and her potency as a match for the hulking alien quester (this is the first time in the series that a woman goes mano a mano with the slayer). And the fact that the script doesn’t rely on dialogue much (shifting into English at the start for the sake of communicational ease) is a smart move. Ultimately, the film isn’t as creative or exciting as it could have been, what with its general lack of surprises (considering how well-known this franchise has become), but for fans of the series, “Prey” is a worthy addition, bringing back one of the horror genre’s greatest out-of-this-world killers.

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10


The Alien and Predator Franchises


Alien (1979)

Aliens (1986)

Predator (1987)

Predator 2 (1990)

Alien 3 (1992)

Alien: Resurrection (1997)

Alien vs. Predator (2004)

Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)

Predators (2010)

Prometheus (2012)

Alien: Covenant (2017)

The Predator (2018)

Prey (2022)