Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
Plot: The origin story of the Predator in the world of the Comanche Nation 300 years ago. Naru, a skilled female warrior, fights to protect her tribe against one of the first highly-evolved alien hunters to land on Earth.
Review: Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in! The Predator franchise has had a rough go of it and, depending on where you land, it can be said the sequels range from okay to awful (I have a soft spot for Predators) with 2018’s Shane Black version being the most disappointing of them all. You remember? It was the one that was supposed to breathe new life but instead made us all wish we had saved our hard earned money and just watched it at home? Yeah, that one made a lot of people think maybe it was time to call it quits.
Then seemingly out of nowhere they announce not only was there going to be a new Predator flick, but this one was going to take place in the 17th century and it was going straight to the small screen, streaming on Hulu. I won’t lie to you folks, I had little hope that this was going to be worth the effort but DAMN if this isn’t the best predator sequel of the bunch (and yes, I know it’s a prequel)!
Dan Trachtenberg, director of 10 Cloverfield Lane and co-writer of Prey, trimmed every piece of unnecessary fat to deliver a Predator movie that most closely resembles the first film while never coming across like a rip-off or lazy rehash. The story of a young brave woman Naru (Amber Midthunder from Legion) who wants to be a hunter and not just settle for what’s expected of her gender. Naru secretly learns how to throw an axe, track animals and, with the help of her whip smart pooch Siila and the guiding words of her older brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers), she tries but fails to achieve her goal. That is until Naru realises something is out there watching, waiting and hunting in their lands. And as she makes the decision to prove her theory correct, she learns she isn’t the only hunter out to prove their worth.
Add this movie to the list of prequels that actually work, matter of fact, I can’ think of a single horror prequel that is better than this one. The cinematography with its beautiful wide shots that make the landscapes feel like they’ve been pulled right out of the past. The sound design that Predator fans will find instantly recognisable, yet with a touch of something more primal to fit the timeline. And the choice of setting and a protagonist who isn’t just a walking list of one-liners (I’m looking at you Shane Black!) all work well. But when you throw in the smart writing and stellar performances by leads Midthunder and Beavers I can’t help but think of this movie as near flawless.
Casting a female lead in a role usually set aside for a man was a tricky gamble that pays off not just because Midthunder is relatable as the young, somewhat naïve brave who doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a medicine woman. No matter the gender I’m sure audiences can relate to the pressures of trying to live up to our parents’ expectations. While there are a few remarks made by other characters about her place in the world (women and cooking etc) it’s never overdone and comes across as natural considering the timeline. Another smart balance found here are the callbacks to earlier films, specifically the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. Simply put, they work because they aren’t overdone. I don’t know a single fan who likes being pandered to but at the same time, we want to see these stories link together in some way. Lines like “if it bleeds, we can kill it” is used here but in a way that’s organic. There are even moments that beautifully subvert audience expectation such as the scene with the mud. I won’t say more but if you’ve seen the movies (I’m pretty certain anyone watching this movie has) you know what I’m talking about. Smart is the word of the day and this movie has smarts in spades.
Of all the compliments I could pay this movie, beside the smart design choices for this Predator and everything previously mentioned, it’s this—Prey is a Predator movie you can watch without EVER having seen another Predator movie. It not only stands on its own as a near perfectly crafted action-horror movie, it’s proof that the Predator franchise still has a lot that can be done with it, if you have the imagination and skill to pull it off.
Score: 8.5 out of 10
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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