Preya prequel to the original Predator and the fifth standalone film in the franchise, will go down as one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises of summer 2022. There hadn’t been a decent Predator movie from the original…until now.
Another surprise: Prey did not get a theatrical release and is going straight to streaming via Hulu. This isn’t a dig into the quality of this movie; Hulu is pushing for exclusive feature-length content a la Netflix and HBO, and this movie is part of that movement. It might work, but the producers missed a great opportunity for an old-school summer theatrical blockbuster, because this movie deserves a big-screen audience.
In any case, the film exists, and it is good. A franchise that had crumbled when it came to anything compelling has been reborn.
The film is set in the early 1700s, as a group of Comanches go about their business, hunt, and live peacefully before the American pioneer phase really took off and fucked their shit up. A young woman named Naru (Amber Midthunder, crushing role) struggles to be recognized as a hunter in her tribe and faces all kinds of antagonism from the male members of the tribe.
Naru spots something crossing the sky and sees it as a mystical sign that his time as a hunter has come. Unfortunately, that something is actually a predator dropped off by a ship for a small hunting/holiday expedition. This trek will include skinning snakes, wolves, bears, and yes, humans.
Director Dan Trachtenberg, who piloted the very good 10 Cloverfield Lane, delivers powerfully on the action front, with plenty of old-school gore Predator Fans. Placing the film in a period before automatic weapons is a masterstroke; perhaps Mr. Predator is sending data back to his ship about his prey, preparing them for the upcoming hunting vacation on Earth.
Perhaps it was the visit that resulted in Schwarzenegger’s confrontation in the original film, with a Predator appearing for this film with more advanced weaponry? Or maybe it was another visit to Earth much earlier, with predators hunting cavemen and dinosaurs. Prey proves that the Predator franchise is now open to all sorts of scenarios and time periods.
As for the Predator itself, this one is more streamlined than past monsters, and its face is still super ugly. He tears up humans well, but, clearly, he has some lessons to learn before his next human confrontation – and Naru does a good job of kicking his ass and teaching him some lessons about a human’s ability to defend himself. .
Prey is basically everything you’d want in a Predator movie, and more. I’m going to go on and say this is the best Predator movie yet, a cut above the original and way better than all the previous sequels.
Prey will begin streaming on Hulu on Friday, August 5