‘Prey’ review: Brilliant ‘Predator’ prequel is a must-watch

Prey is the way you do a Predator film: Pit a badass alien in opposition to an much more badass heroine and let the blood and guts fly. Sprinkle in placing visuals and an emotional hero’s journey (to not point out a wholesome quantity of belief in your viewers), and also you’re a winner.

Director Dan Trachtenberg’s Predator prequel is a taut thriller that is simply one of the best addition to the franchise for the reason that authentic. It is intimate and character-driven, with greater than sufficient motion to fulfill probably the most die-hard Predator followers on the market. Heck, even when you’ve by no means watched a Predator film, chances are high you may love Prey. It is simply that good.


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Prey’s 1719 setting offers the Predator franchise a contemporary new context

A young woman with black facepaint across her eyes hides behind a tree. A humanoid alien looms behind her.

Naru faces off in opposition to the Predator.
Credit score: Photograph by David Bukach © 2022 twentieth Century Studios

Set in 1719 within the Comanche Nation, Prey is way faraway from the remainder of the Predator movies by way of each timeline and placement. That distance proves to be the movie’s not-so-secret weapon, as a result of whereas Prey is clearly a Predator movie, it does not really feel like several iteration of the Predator tales we have seen earlier than.

Whereas ‘Prey’ is clearly a ‘Predator’ movie, it does not really feel like several iteration of the ‘Predator’ tales we have seen earlier than.

Trachtenberg and Prey screenwriter Patrick Aison clearly know that we’re aware of the bottom idea of the alien Predators who hunt for sport. So they do not waste time catching us up with pointless exposition. As a substitute, we’re dropped proper into the plains of the American West — gorgeously shot by cinematographer Jeff Cutter — the place a Predator (Dane DiLiegro) has begun a calculated killing spree. In traditional Predator trend, Trachtenberg lets the horror of this rather more historical Predator linger off-screen, well using the Predator’s camouflage system to generate suspense. The Predator’s kills — similar to a gnarly snake disembowelment — converse for themselves.

As we get to know the Predator, we additionally get to know Prey‘s protagonist Naru (Amber Midthunder). She’s a member of the Comanche tribe who is set to show her mettle as a hunter, regardless of the doubts of her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) and everybody else round her. Nevertheless, Naru is the primary particular person to understand there is a new, harmful apex predator on the free. As quickly as that realization kicks in, so does the principle battle of Prey, pitting an elite hunter in opposition to an aspiring one in a showdown to the loss of life.


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Naru is an motion hero for the ages

A young woman with black face paint across her eyes aims an arrow.

Amber Midthunder kills it as Naru.
Credit score: Photograph by David Bukach © 2022 twentieth Century Studios

Positive, this can be a Predator film, however Prey is basically all about Naru. After I inform you that Naru kicks ass, I do not assume you perceive fairly how a lot ass she kicks. She’s an ace with a tomahawk and a gifted tracker, with a wonderful canine companion as well. On high of all that, Naru is sensible. Her choices — similar to fastening a rope to her tomahawk so she’s at all times capable of pull it again to her — persistently have satisfying narrative payoff. You need her to succeed not simply because she’s Prey‘s predominant character, but in addition as a result of Prey makes it abundantly clear how succesful she is.

Our information of Naru’s talents is because of the truth that we spend an excellent chunk of Prey‘s first act attending to know her. We study what’s anticipated of her as a girl in her tribe versus what she actually desires to do. Early scenes flesh out our hero in quiet conversations along with her brother and her mom Aruka (Michelle Thrush) in addition to in sequences the place Naru hunts alone. This sluggish burn of a begin is a killer character introduction, made all of the extra engrossing due to Midthunder.

As Naru, Midthunder delivers a monster of a efficiency. She spends lengthy stretches of the movie in silence as she tracks her prey. But we all know precisely how she’s feeling and what she plans to do subsequent based mostly on a pointed look. Midthunder additionally sells the motion scenes arduous, reminding us in every set piece that Naru isn’t just preventing to outlive. She’s additionally preventing to show herself.


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Prey delivers glorious alien motion

A humanoid alien with a white mask made of bone lifts up an ornate metal shield.

An superior scene in an superior movie.
Credit score: Photograph by David Bukach © 2022 twentieth Century Studios

We have seen Predators face off in opposition to weapons and different trendy weaponry. Now in Prey, we get to see how they might fare in opposition to bows and arrows and tomahawks. For those who assume centuries-old weapons can be of little use in opposition to Predator expertise, assume once more! Prey — and Naru — have loads of surprises up their sleeves.

Because of a strong quantity of bloody violence, Prey earns its R-rating. But its battle scenes are extra than simply gore fests for the sake of ugly spectacle. They’re trendy and suspenseful, with clear stakes and built-in character moments. I do want that the movie’s last showdown had been rather less darkly lit so we may get a greater sense of the motion. Nevertheless, an earlier battle scene, involving a bunch of overconfident French trappers, greater than makes up for any qualms I could have. That sequence — which showcases this model of the Predator’s weapons and preventing fashion in all its brutal glory — is a number of the most enjoyable you may have watching any Predator from any Predator film do its factor. And the movie is aware of it, taking its time for a couple of laugh-out-loud beats within the midst of all of the carnage.

With spectacular motion, compelling characters, and an engrossing story, Prey completely deserves the hype that comes with a big viewers. It is a crime that it’s not getting a theatrical launch, however don’t assume for a second that this can be a case of a studio dumping a mediocre movie direct to streaming.

Prey guidelines, and it’s best to hunt it down and watch it as quickly because it hits Hulu.

Prey begins streaming on Hulu Aug. 5.