Prey is a gory action fest that adds even more charm to the Predator film series.
Prey: The Best Post-Arnie Predator Movie
Killer Jaw finally gets the savage and stylish showcase it deserves, and Midthunder is just as deadly as its foe.
- Midthunter offers a capable and believable protagonist
- Trachtenberg rebuilds the deadliest predator and makes it even deadlier
- Action, suspense, horror and sci-fi in one great movie
- Possibly the best post-Arnold Schwarzenegger Predator episode
- It still feels like a weird prequel to the original series.
If director Dan Trachtenberg offered a nifty take on what cinematic universe expansions can be with 10 Cloverfield Lane in 2016, he does it again with his entry in the Predator series (Predator), Prey. Rejecting any temptation to be bigger and more extravagant, or simply indulge in nostalgia, Prey is a beast that fits better into one side of the saga than most IP variants… It’s like a blood relative (green), not an expansion pack for previous films.
Shifting the saga, Trachenberg strips away the core concept of Predator and rebuilds it into fierce, hard-boiled survival forms. And then, more importantly, he’s having a ton of fun finding ways to increase the number of skulls.
Amber Midthunder achieves the goal of hooking you up as a young Comanche Naru. The year: 1719. The place: the Northern Great Plains. While Naru wants to hunt as part of a rite of passage, warrior Taabe (Dakota Beavers) says she’s not ready. But despite her young age and inexperience, she is a good tracker. She knows her territory. When he finds a flayed snake and a huge footprint, he knows no bear has done this. And when the air shimmers as she fights for her life, Naru knows that a new danger awaits her.
By carefully constructing the environment and character, Prey gives us a believable clue in a setting you can feel. While 10 Cloverfield Lane made single-set cinema appealing, here Trachtenberg makes the most of a larger landscape, navigating between sprawling aerial shots and rugged close-ups to evoke its deadly beauty. And it’s deadly, as evidenced by the swamp sequences and deadly (and sea urchin) close encounters.
In this context, the Yautja (Dane DiLiegro) quickly asserts its alpha status. Teasing audiences with glimpses of the jawed monster resembling a high plains fiend, Trachtenberg meticulously builds up blood and suspense before unleashing the creature’s full suite of abilities.
A massacre in the middle of the film not only connects Prey to Predator 2 (and the 1718 comic), but it also revels in the indecently exciting sight of the Yautja at work to wickedly inventive effect. And Midthunder proves to be a more than worthy opponent. Frightened but determined, capable but stuck, she emerges as the most interesting protagonist of the saga so far.
By the time the final fight arrives, with Sarah Schachner’s excellent score, you’ve become a complete Naru fan and support her as her mind resolves clues subtly seeded throughout the film. For his part, Trachtenberg has figured out how to give the Yautja its due. The best post-Schwarzenegger Predator variant? Undoubtedly. The best Predator movie in itself? Tough decision, but one thing is certain: Prey does his job and does it very well.