Prey has arrived on Hulu. How do you revitalize the Predator franchise? After so many sequels that grow less and less compelling with more of the alien revealed, sometimes you just need to go back to your roots. Sometimes you need to go even further.
Prey exists as a prequel of sorts. It takes place long before the events of the first film but doesn’t rely on them either. It’s a new setting, new characters, and a whole new love for the grizzly tale of man vs. alien in a vicious environment.
A Warrior’s Ambition
Prey is set in 1700s North America. Within the Comanche tribe is Naru (Amber Midthunder), a girl who studies both medicine and hunting. The tribe would prefer Naru to remain more of a healer than a hunter but that’s not her style.
Naru wants to prove herself and feels that the only way to do so is to impress her brother, Taabe (Dakota Beavers). Taabe is perhaps the only warrior that has a bit of faith in Naru, despite the feelings of the male hunters. She sets her sights on a rite of passage but it may not be enough to assert her role.
An Alien Invader
As if the forces of nature and vicious French fur traders weren’t enough to worry about, the Comanche tribe now has to contend with the Predator alien. Arriving with all its fancy tech, the Predator aims to get some sporting hunts in on its Earth trip. It starts off small by attacking snakes and wolves before moving on to bears.
Naru encounters this creature and realizes it’s going to take more than brute force to beat this alien. It doesn’t take long for this advanced alien hunter to gore an onslaught of humans. For beating this thread, Naru needs to work smarter not harder.
Naru is such a great character to have in a film like Prey. She spends the first act of the film building up her skill and intelligence to be a cunning hunter. There’s great foreshadowing in how she uses medicine, her environment, and an ax she can retract with each throw.
I also really dug how she reacts to a world that scorns her. She’ll talk back but only to the degree where she needs to save as many as she can. Even in moments of terror, she won’t let anyone die if she doesn’t have to.
Despite Naru’s good intentions, however, the Predator is a very blood-thirsty beast. The creature spends half the movie cloaked in as much mystery as its cloaking shield. Then Predator springs into action with grotesque violence, decapitating heads and lopping off limbs.
Prey even gets a bit playful with these violent ordeals. A band of cocky French fur traders gets the worst of the creature’s assault. Their deaths range from the disgusting (a sliced off with its shield) to the comical (a ricocheted bullet off the Predator’s shield at point-blank range).
One Well-Armed Alien in Prey
You get a lot of cool Predator weapons in this entry. There’s a shield that doubles as a weapon, laser-guided arrows, blades in the arms, and a device that seems to shoot out limb-slicing discs. These are all slowly divulged as the movie proceeds, amping up the tension with each encounter.
The look of this Predator is also far more distinct than in previous movies. The Predator’s jaw is far more extended, making it look all the more threatening. The Predator’s helmet is a simpler design of bone, strangely fitting the time period well.
Of course, the best part of this Predator is keeping it in the shadows for the longest time. The slow progression of establishing this thread makes one want to lean in with excitement. It’s been a long time since I’ve ever felt that in a Predator movie.
A Spiritual Spin-Off
What makes Prey so engaging is that it feels almost completely distant from Predator lore. For those wondering if you need to see the other Predator movies before this one, you can rest easy. There’s no foreknowledge required to enjoy this romp.
There are little nuggets of callbacks in the picture. At one point, Taabe tells his sister some inspiring words about the Predator: “If it bleeds, we can kill it.”
Thankfully, the film never gets bogged down in its winking and callbacks. The references are so limited that they’re like tiny sprinkles for the fans. Even if you’re not big on callbacks, the movie never stops throwing a big neon sign toward the references.
Prey is such a brutal and exciting picture that it transcends being just another Predator movie. It’s a picture that tinkers with the concept and turns out something almost entirely original. It also manages to be just as violent and intense as the original Predator movie without harping too much on its format.
The premise works so well that it’s enough to make one question if the Alien franchise should delve back in time. Victorian era, perhaps? Maybe not but the new setting certainly works for this Predator picture, however you want to slice and dice it.
Did you see Prey? What did you think of the movie? How does it compare to previous Predator movies? Let us know in the comments below.
Prey is currently playing on Hulu.