The Predator Franchise was dormant for twenty years as far as solo films were concerned. There have been two opportunities to reinvigorate the franchise. Predators and The Predator were both fun but failed attempts. This time, the franchise joined the streaming service side of things with the release of the Hulu original Prey. Despite this film not being released in a movie theater, it’s possibly the one that deserves it the most. If there is a perfect Predator film, then this is it.
Prey follows Naru (Amber Midthunder), a Comanche woman that seeks to be a hunter. She lives in a very masculine society. They do not think of her as a hunter or see her as one. They want her to essentially stay in a woman’s place. Even the women in this society want her to be a lady of sorts. She’s set her mind on proving everybody wrong, whether it be her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers), Aruka (Michelle Thrush), French fur traders, or Sumu (Stefany Mathias).
Her journey is about her kuhtaamia. It is essentially a tradition that the Comanche people use to determine if you are a real hunter or not. The film focuses on that through different events. Naru is hunting while being hunted the entire film. She sees the Predator’s ship fly through the Great Plains, and takes it as a sign to begin her kuhtaamia. Her family and tribe think she is hunting a lion, but Naru has bigger plans. Meanwhile, the Predator is hunting as well. Every time it finds a bigger threat, it hunts it and removes it from the ecosystem.
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While Naru is hunting the Predator, the Predator is also unknowingly hunting her. We see the Predator’s rule of not engaging in things that can’t defend themselves apply in this film as well. Every animal the Predator finds leads him towards Naru.
As Prey continues, each hunter gets better. Predator keeps coming across new animals that help him develop better weaponry and skills. Naru comes across multiple situations that help her increase her skills as a hunter as well. This all culminates to one of the greatest Predator final fights in a while.
10 Cloverfield Lane director Dan Trachtenberg finally gets a chance to go full sci-fi in a feature film. His anxiety-driven style of directing contributes heavily to this film. Once the characters and historical background have been introduced, we hit the ground running. Trachtenberg’s full science fiction potential shines here. His prowess as a director focused on action flourishes as well and he meshes the two together to make for a perfect blend.
Patrick Aison’s screenplay is interesting. The screenplay is focused on Naru’s journey, but there’s a lot beneath the surface. She’s living in a time when women weren’t supposed to hunt. She wants to create her path and story. The story is tight-knit and well woven. It’s so interesting to watch how this film is navigated through her lens.
This may be the first Predator film with an actual in-depth story. It’s very character driven and focuses on building these characters up. Even when we get the French fur trappers, the men in the Comanche tribe treating Naru like nothing, and Predator’s thirst for his next kill – this film still thrives off of every scene Midthunder is in.
The story isn’t new, a woman that wants an equal opportunity. Naru wants to be a warrior; it’s the path she’s chosen and that’s what her heart is set on. This focus creates an atmosphere that’s very compelling. Additionally, Jeff Cutter’s cinematography easily makes Prey the most beautiful Predator film. Furthermore, the scenery, the action sequences, and the tight angles during those sequences make for a fun ride.
By the time you get to the end of Prey, there’s a sense of relief. The film spends the entire time getting you worked up, wondering how the film ends, and Naru’s fate. I’ve never been attached to a Predator’s prey like I was Naru. She’s the most compelling part of this installment.
Furthermore, Prey continues the year of the final girl. It also takes a chapter from the book of its 20th Century Fox counterpart Alien. No pure Predator film has ever had a solo female lead. They’ve always featured women and they get put on the back burner or used as some sort of motivation for the lead male. This film is solely focused on the lead female character. It’s a wonderful thing to see, and an element that adds to the film in a variety of ways
Overall, this is the perfect Predator film. Prey takes everything good about Predator and meshes it together. Unfortunately, there are only so many ways you can say a film is great. Prey should have had a theatrical release. It has the potential to be the greatest film in the franchise. Prey is great and I hope it gets a sequel. – Rascal F. Kennedy
Rating – 100%
Prey is now available on Hulu!