Shadow
Prey

Prey

Synopsis:
The origin story of the Predator in the world of the Comanche Nation 300 years ago. Naru, a skilled warrior, fights to protect her tribe against one of the first highly-evolved Predators to land on Earth.

A lone Comanche woman faces off against an alien Predator in . In 1719 in the Great Plains, Naru () is a young Comanche woman who desires to be a hunter, despite having been trained by her tribe as a healer. Naru decides to accompany her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) to locate an injured hunter attacked by a cougar. However, Naru soon sees signs of a much more dangerous Predator () hunting in the wilderness.

Prey is an 18th-century set prequel to the Predator franchise directed by Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane). The film depicts the alien species' first arrival on Earth as it comes into contact with a group of Comanche hunters. Naru ends up tracking down the Predator in an attempt to prove herself, but she finds it a formidable foe, with the added threat of a group of French voyageurs.

Dan Trachtenberg spent five years developing Prey, with work on the film predating Shane Black's 2018 sequel, The Predator. Trachtenberg and writer Patrick Aison initially wanted the connection of the film, originally titled Skulls, to the Predator franchise to be a surprise. However, this connection to the Predator films was revealed while the movie was still filming.

After the issues I had with The Predator, particularly involving that film's problematic depiction of autism, Prey ends up being a back-to-basics film much more akin to the original Predator. The 18th-century setting allows The Predator to look different than in previous films, sporting a much more primal and feral appearance and having slightly lower-tech weapons.

However, the significant breakthrough performance in the film is Amber Midthunder (Legion, Roswell, New Mexico) as the Comanche protagonist Naru, who spends the bulk of the film alone in the wilderness accompanied by her dog Sarii. It is almost a shame that a film led by an indigenous female has to be relegated to a direct-to-streaming release, even though Prey is by far one of the better entries in the Predator film series and is most definitely superior to The Predator. However, it should be interesting to note that there is an alternate dub of Prey that is entirely in the Comanche language, which in some ways is a bit more authentic than the “normal” release of the film that has the Comanche characters speaking English.

Ultimately the 18th-century setting helps Prey to stand on its own among the films in the Predator franchise. In addition to being a prequel to the series, the film is also a coming-of-age story, where its female Comanche protagonist sets out against the preset gender norms and traditions of her tribe to prove herself as a hunter.

Trailer for Prey

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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