Directed by Dan Trachtenberg.
Starring Amber Midthunder, Harlan Blayne Kytwayhat, Dane DiLiegro, Dakota Beavers, Nelson Leis, Stormee Kipp, Michelle Thrush, Julian Black Antelope and Stefany Mathias.
The origin story of the Predator in the Comanche world 300 years ago. Naru, a skilled warrior, fights to protect her tribe from one of the first highly evolved predators to land on Earth.
Director Dan Trachtenberg understands the characteristics of creatures. Here he reintroduces himself predator franchise and directing the script with prey (the 10 Cloverfield Lane The filmmaker also uses a screenplay by Patrick Aaison), an origin story that is refreshingly focused on the arrival of the alien species and their battle against an 18th-century Comanche tribe. And unique ideas don’t tend to fall flat, but it quickly becomes apparent that Dan Trachtenberg is himself a student of the action sci-fi horror genre, and the fear and suspense is slowly building.
The humanoid alien is seen trophy hunting (skinning snakes and beating bears to death). It does so primarily through cinematographer Jeff Cutter’s trademark camouflage, thermal perspectives and brilliant shot-blocking, which obscures the cutting and decapitation without shying away from blood spatter. Add in the pulsating score of Sarah Schachner, fully realizing sequences of accentuating terror, gradually revealing danger (like some of the best horror films, there’s no intentional crystal clear view of the creature until about halfway through), increasingly violent and chaotically controlled.
It also helps that the Predator kills with brutal and bloody style and faces off against larger groups as the film builds into a highly suspenseful showdown that will most likely have one pounding their chests and erupting in applause from their sitting rooms (you know, because Disney is stupid and anti-consumer who decide against giving this great blockbuster a theatrical release in order to increase streaming subscribers).
prey is a technical marvel, from the stunning landscapes, a brief but detailed look at the Comanche settlements, to the authenticity brimming with guns and pursuit, its modern Predator design (a mix of bodysuits, practical effects and CGI that retains certain aspects of the former enhanced for a more menacing and physically imposing portrayal) and its fast-paced, unrelenting and escalating segments of bloodshed. It may sound similar to tried and tested predator Formula. In practice, however, it feels completely distinctive (viewers can also take it a step further by streaming the film entirely in the Comanche language, which inexplicably wasn’t an option for critics’ reporting).
Notable among this Comanche tribe are siblings Naru (Amber Midthunder) and Taabe (Dakota Beavers), with the former eager to prove and assert themselves in the hunt. Though she has the necessary skills, an unspoken but overt sexism comes into play that suggests she sticks to other duties or takes on the role of a paramedic (another of her specialties). While some of the tribesmen’s dialogue occasionally feels forced and more like schoolyard bullying than anything else, Naru doesn’t always do it with more drive, conviction, and determination; All of this allows Amber Midthunder to tightly cater to that “if it bleeds we can kill it” mentality that has always served as the backbone of films.
Luckily, Naru’s relationship with brother Taabe is one of mutual respect, although there is a bit of playful sibling rivalry. Taabe still disregards some of the sister’s tactical advice and doesn’t believe her that she witnessed something far more dangerous than a lion in the wild. This, of course, leads to internal drama as they attempt to rescue one of their own (no one knows what injured him) and return to the campsite. It’s also no spoiler to say that pretty much anyone who ignores these warnings will die a sadistically comfortable death.
Finally, some French trappers (they are more fodder for the Predator) also come into play with their plans to kill the beast. At the same time, the dynamic between Naru and Taabe deepens emotionally as they unite for an immersive, tumultuous survival showdown. Amber Midthunder is up to the challenge prey, who immediately solidifies as a must-see action heroine; She is a wild force to be reckoned with.
Flickering Myth Rating – Movie: ★★★★ / Movie: ★★★★★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the editor of Flickering Myth Reviews. Check here for new reviews, follow mine Twitter or letterboxd or email me at [email protected]