Dir. Dan Trachtenberg (2022)
The Predator first comes to Earth 300 years ago, finding itself stuck in Comanche Nation. Naru, a female warrior who has yet to undergo her Big Hunt, must save her tribe from the new threat.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Warning: I tried my best to avoid any big spoilers in this review, but if you’re a regular reader you know that’s something I don’t do all too well. While you won’t find huge spoilers in this review, if you want to be completely surprised throughout all of Prey, I highly recommend giving it a watch before going any further.
Taking place on the Northern Great Plains in 1719, Prey is an origin story for the alien hunter from the previous Predator installments. Full discloser: I’m a huge fan of the series, especially the first two. I don’t give a fuck that AvP kinda sucked, the Predator was still badass as hell. You wanna make an actual good movie, with good production values, a great script, and an original story involving the Predator? Sign me the fuck up, I’m in.
Naru is stuck between the life she wants and the life expected of her: she is a woman, so therefore must be more gatherer than hunter. No one in her village expects much of her, and they certainly don’t think she can hunt. She yearns for more, desiring to be every bit the hunter that her brother is. She sees fire in the sky, believing it to be the legendary Thunderbird, and she sees this as the sign that it is time for her own hunt to begin. Little does she know, she’s right: just not in the way that she imagines. (She also has a fucking adorable dog who is just the best good boy on the planet)
Look at his cute widdle ears!
From the very first Predator growl as it is dropped off by its disappearing spaceship, we are in for a fucking treat. The movie subverts expectations in much the way that Naru subverts hers. While Predator as a series deals with man as potentially the worst predator (and this one is no different), Prey shows us that, no, the Predator is a fucking badass who can kill a bear with his bare hands. Naru is a woman, and is expected not to be able to fight, but she manages to use her intellect and savviness for hunting to one-up the greatest hunter in the galaxy. Of course, the audience knows that Naru is likely to come out victorious, but it’s not a brute strength fight. Nor should it be. The reason man is “the most dangerous game” is because of our ability to think our way through problems, and both the Comanche tribe and the French hunters seem to forget that in their arrogance. Naru, who comes from a position of already being seen as “less than” knows all to well that it is her wits and guts that got her this far, and it’s going to be her wits and her guts that save her.
Amber Midthunder is astonishingly good as the badass Naru, and the cinematography and scenery is breathtaking. Watching the Predator hunt some of nature’s scariest creatures, from rattlesnakes to wolves, is enthralling. The Predator movies are all about survival in the harshest elements known to man while being hunted by a bloodthirsty adversary. Producer John Davis said that they recognized what made the original such a compelling film, and were dedicated to making sure that this one followed that same path. Boy, did they. While I have a special place in my heart for Predator II and it’s wacky insanity, this is the best Predator film since the first. The final battle is beautiful and epic and the movie as a whole is fucking excellent. Highly recommended.
There are going to be some people that don’t like this movie because of its insertion of a Native American woman as warrior and its description of white trappers as evil, but ya know what? Fuck em. They’re wrong, and this movie rocks.
Who this movie is for: Predator series fans, Fans of gory modern horror, The French so they can be reminded they suck
Bottom line: Filled with gore and some brutal kills, Prey manages to become the best Predator film since the original. It’s leans a bit heavy into the “white man bad, Native Americans good” trope, and it does tend to come across a little “women empowerment” for some people’s tastes, but like, honestly, get over yourselves: women can be empowered, and, in the struggle between the white man and Native Americans, it’s not like the filmmakers were lying here. Midthunder does a phenomenal job as Naru, and this one is absolutely worth a watch and one of the best movies of 2022.