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Prey Movie Review

by Robert Cain 2 months ago in review
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A brilliant comeback for a neglected franchise with strong lead performances and visceral action.

The iconic but often neglected Predator has ran into serious trouble recently. After the mess of 2018’s The Predator, the series is taking a cautious approach on Hulu and Disney+. The new small-scale release from Dan Trachtenberg ends up being a powerfully effective piece; one destined to rejuvenate the IP and overcome the doubters.

Set in North America in the early 1700s, Prey follows a local Comanche tribe who contend with one of the first arrivals of the alien hunters. The young Naru (Amber Midhunter) notices something amiss when hunting the local wildlife and soon finds herself in conflict with a deadly foe wielding advanced technology. As it begins to slaughter humans left and right, she’s forced to study the creature and employ more cunning tactics to come out on top. It’s a breath of fresh air to see a Predator film so focused on a simpler story; at 100 minutes long, it wastes no time on the fine details and keeps us in Naru’s perspective. She makes her way across the landscape, gradually learning more about her enemy and defending against both natural and manmade threats. What pulls it all together is its thematic undertones. Prey knows that many of us have already seen the famous monster in full, so it instead makes of use of an inspired idea; predatory hierarchies. The Predator is on a hunt of its own, cleaving his way through the local wildlife to find the most worthy opponent. Simultaneously, the arrival of another human opponent later in the film twists the stakes for both the protagonist and her tribe. The only component Prey lacks is the sense of mystery around the creature; this was a key part of the 1987 release and is very difficult to replicate. As a result, the fear factor is slightly lessened.

Tapping into its Native American roots, the film firmly embraces an older setting. The cast is relatively small with side characters kept off to the side. Leading the way is Amber Midhunter who turns in a standout, visceral performance. Her desire for glory and protecting her tribe as a huntress is mirrored by the Predator’s own hunt, but it’s not an easy fight. Naru is put through some tough challenges throughout the production and much like Arnold’s Dutch Schafer, you root for her to overcome the adversity. Naru’s fellow warriors are fiercely dedicated to the hunt, most notably her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) who lends his own prowess to the struggle. It’s a simple bond that is well implemented into the combat. On the whole, there’s a keen eye for representing the Comanche, showing their traditions and how they tie in to living in harmony with the land. Before the action begins, you’re well aware of Naru’s goals and how they clash with her people. The monster is played by Dane DiLiegro this time and he does a solid job of capturing the movement and other-worldly mannerisms. Watching the alien take on wolves and bears showcases its physicality and the sense of tension is always high whenever it makes an appearance.

Even when viewed on a regular streaming set, Prey looks stunning from start to finish. The mountain lands of the Comanche are presented in beautiful detail with plenty of grand landscape shots. Atmosphere is something the Predator series has often done well and the naturalistic setting is a great fit; the Comanche warriors light their torches in one foreboding sequence and the use of snowfall in the climax is a brilliant touch. Gruesome, violent combat makes every action sequence hit hard, but the film also takes care to pair these moments with the time period. When a trio of humans react in curiosity to the Predator’s tech, it makes perfect sense in context. As for the monster itself, a practical costume is used to convey a less evolved alien; the weapons and gadgets feel more primitive and archaic, showing the time-gap between Prey and the original classic. The film’s soundtrack continues the tribal themes of the first, but strikes out in its own direction to complement the characters. Despite its lower budget, Prey creates an effective tone that sells the story and characters.

Prey marks a dramatic turnaround for the struggling franchise; it strips out all the unnecessary junk of past entries and delivers a thrilling production. With a stellar performance from Amber Midhunter and excellent production values, fans will be overjoyed, yet it’s still a worthy watch for the uninitiated.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars (Brilliant)

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About the author

Robert Cain

I'm a well-travelled blogger and writer from the UK who is looking to spread his blogs and freelance writings further afield. You can find more of my work at https://robc25.wixsite.com/thecainagecritique.

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