Released: 5th August
Seen: 7th August

In 2018, the film The Predator was released to cinemas. It was the 4th entry in the badly named franchise (previous entries being Predator, Predator 2 and Predators… so not confusing in the slightest) and it was probably the worst of the bunch. It almost felt like it was going to put the final nail in the coffin for this franchise which has been kind of coasting on fond memories of the 1987 original. So when there was news of another entry coming out that would take the actually unique film title Prey, it’s fair to say that there was some trepidation about how good the film would be… turns out it might be the best in the whole damn franchise.

Prey’s unique take on the Predator mythos is to set the film among a tribe of Comanche people in the early 1700s. The central focus is a young healer known as Naru (Amber Midthunder) who dreams of one day being allowed to be a hunter, much like her big brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) who is probably the most skilled hunter in the tribe. When Naru sees a strange light in the sky, she believes that it’s the legendary Thunderbird calling her to join the hunt and so she joins Taabe and a few other hunters as they go to find a mountain lion that has seemingly injured one of their own.

However, what Naru saw was not a Thunderbird. It turns out what she saw was a spaceship that was dropping off a Predator for the usual hunt that Predators are known to do. Soon Naru, Taabe and the entire hunting party of Comanche people will be forced to put their tracking abilities, handmade weaponry and understanding of the landscape against the sheer might and technologically impressive battle supplies of The Predator and hopefully defeat it before it destroys everything they love.

Prey is an incredibly effective thrill ride, making the most of its limited time and cast to get maximum impact. It shouldn’t be that much of a shock that the director of the jaw-dropping 10 Cloverfield Lane is capable of turning in a suspenseful horror film where most of the cast could fit inside a large van with relative ease but he absolutely pulls it off. Prey is crafted brilliantly, letting the first act really just setup everything that’ll matter later on. From how good Naru is at medicine to how good these people are at hunting to just the general area that this entire film will take place in, everything you need to know to follow the film is shown within about 20 minutes and once the film is sure you’re as ready as you need to be, they unleash the predator and let the fun begin.

Prey (2022) - Amber Midthunder
Prey (2022) – Amber Midthunder

And oh boy does Prey have fun with the predator, who really just comes in and tears the entire world apart like it was nothing. The character of Predator has always been pretty terrifying and bloody and they don’t hold back on it here. They make sure to show the Predator as an intense and powerful being that not only helps create some of the best sequences in the film (just watching a Predator throw around a bear like it was nothing is one of the most intense moments) but gives him back some of the terror he’s lost over the last few decades. It’s probably the scariest Predator’s been since the original film… which really gives the person who spends most of the film a lot of chances to shine.

Indeed, it’s Naru and in particular the performance by Amber Midthunder that really elevates Prey from good to all time great. Naru is one of the most intelligent characters you will ever see, constantly learning and keeping her eyes on everything around her so she can be ready when needed. Watching as she figures out how the assorted weapons work is a joy, you can see in her eyes the moment it hits her how she can use the Predator’s own weaponry against it and it’s glorious.

Naru’s certainly not perfect, Prey makes it clear several times that she’s still learning how to use certain weapons and how to have the confidence needed to take the shot but it’s watching her gain these skills that make you root for her, wanting her to outsmart the Predator in ways we haven’t seen before. Plus it helps that Amber Midthunder is delivering an all-time great performance as the hero of the film, charming and badass from start to finish. Basically, this is a fantastic central performance and if you’re one of those assholes calling Naru a “Mary Sue”… well, you’re wrong and also probably have a few personal flaws you need to look into.

What’s extra great is that it’s very obvious that a lot of work went into making sure they represented the Comanche tribe as respectfully as possible. Obviously, you’ll need to look up reviews from actual Comanche people to see if they did it accurately, but it certainly feels respectful. They aren’t playing with stereotypes here, there’s a lot of work that’s gone in to make sure they portray these people as authentically as possible. Hell, they even released Prey with a full dub in Comanche, just to show how much they are trying to make sure they do this right. It’s a genuinely positive representation that we really need more of, and also is just a fascinating place to take the Predator franchise. If the next few films can just be assorted indigenous people kicking Predator ass all over the planet, that would be goddamn awesome. 

Prey is proof that there is still life left in the Predator franchise, tons of it. It’s just been waiting for someone to see the potential for where the franchise could go and embrace it – and boy does Prey embrace it. With fantastic performances, some brutal gore moments, stunning visuals and an effectively simple and easy-to-follow story, Prey is absolutely amazing from top to bottom. There’s something genuinely special here that we’ll hopefully be able to see more of in the future.

One thought on “Prey (2022) – Out Of This World Amazing

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