Nothing beats a great sci-fi horror/action film and one of the most iconic franchises in the said genre is Predator. The most recent film in the franchise, entitled Prey, is currently available now on HULU. Thanks to our handy VPN provider, we were able to watch Prey in order to review it here at This Is Hype Ph.
Prey as mentioned is part of the Predator franchise and is actually the fifth installment while simultaneously being a prequel to the entire set of films. The film is directed by Dan Trachtenberg who is known for his work in another horror-thriller film, 10 Cloverfield Lane released back in 2016. The film stars Amber Midthunder who is known for her acting credits in the FX series Legion based on the titular X-Men character.
The film is set in the Northern Great Plains of North America in 1719 as a young Comanche woman by the name of Naru (Midthunder) tries to prove herself as she dreams to become a great hunter like her older brother Taabe. During one of her periods of hunting practice, Naru witnesses mysterious occurrences such as weirdly skinned snakes and peculiar thunderstorms. She soon discovers that as she hunts for lions and bears, a greater threat is also on the hunt and is relentless in proving its strength and standing as the number one apex predator in the land. Naru must now battle her way through the alien predator who hunts humans for sport, the harsh elements of her environment, and foreign fur traders all to ensure her own safety and those in her tribe.
Prey Review: Spoiler Warnings
Given that Prey isn’t fully available in the Philippines as of writing except via VPN through HULU, we will keep this review free from spoilers. We will limit the discussion of this Prey review to the unique direction of the story, its character development, and the visual and aesthetic appeal that it brings.
The Best of Predator To Date
The Predator franchise has admittedly offered a clunky barrage of sci-fi thrillers and action films that pit aliens against humans in the ultimate battle for survival. That is until Prey came into the picture. As the sub-heading explicitly states, this prequel is hands-down one of the best films that we have gotten so far from the franchise. Prey is an exciting thriller film but is one that also manages to contain an interesting tale that revolves around native Americans. The accuracy of course does have its pitfalls as I personally would have loved it all the more if there was an added element of authenticity in the language and use of subtitles but as a whole, the film manages to shed light on the Comanche tribe and the rituals, politics and social climates that take place in the said group. There is an almost educational atmosphere as Native Americans honestly don’t have much film representation. The stage and vehicle of a predator movie seem to be the perfect avenue to bring them into the spotlight.
The film admittedly takes a while to build up and the pacing tends to drag its feet at times but we don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing. The exposition is given enough time to fully develop and it allows the action and thrilling scenes to be all the more exciting once the film reaches its full gears. There is an enticement and ability for Prey to keep you glued to each and every scene that occurs. The amazing part all the more is how Prey centers on Naru’s journey as a rising hunter which in itself is a very artistic and poetic manner of story-telling. Not only does Midthunder hold her own as an actress but she is able to really draw out the most from Naru while being a very controversial focal point to be quite frank given the setting and predicaments of the Comanche tribe. It’s very poetic in that even gender roles are pushed to their maximum level as it isn’t just a means to promote a powerful leading lady but one that can extract so much tension and empowerment. It’s simply a very powerful statement as it is.
Prey also interestingly showcases two types of predators and prey which is a great means of showing a more poetic side to the story. We don’t just find a cat and mouse chase or a game of survival that is focused on humans being hunted for sport. The majority of the male figures in this movie serve that purpose but not Naru. We as viewers are actually thrown into a back and forth between the alien predator and Naru as the roles of prey and predator are actually very blurred. There is almost a unique relationship and bond that occurs between the heroine and the antagonist as both seem to become one at times in terms of the motive and passion for the hunt. The scenes with the menacing alien, therefore, aren’t done just to achieve a thriller and horror element but one that allows the film to truly take shape as it shapes our central character, Naru.
A Positive Depiction of Gore
It seems so difficult to put the word positive and gore In the same sentence but Prey manages to achieve a spectacle of gore and bloodshed that would prompt audiences to scream for more. There is just enough of it. That’s a difficult feat in itself as the film manages to ensure subtlety and a keen ability for self-control. The deaths are admittedly brutal but what’s amazing is the satisfying nature of it. There are scenes that don’t fully show the extreme extent that the predator exercises on his victims but there are also moments that are just right and needed that depict the full extent of the bloodshed. Prey is able to therefore strike the perfect balance of the spectacle and the right amounts of subtlety and suggestive imagery.
We’ve also seen the predator in the past but the design and look done on this character in this film are entirely different. There is an elevated menacing look to the alien which allows the character to look like a true predator-killing machine. Prey manages to draw back on the design of the character which admitted shows a great handle on the continuity aspect of the story. If Prey is set truly as a prequel the changes in the predator itself are just appropriate to showcase room and space for advancement and evolution. This version, therefore, seems to be the most stripped and raw version that highlights the innate and most basic killer instinct of the deadly alien killer. It honestly makes a huge difference in ensuring the bigger threat that the central villain holds on humanity.
Breaking Visual Expectations
Prey is an unexpected visual treat. The cinematography is on a whole other level, especially for a Predator film. There is first and foremost a very cinematic vibe that radiates throughout the entire film that allows scenic shots to take center stage. It actually reminded me of film techniques such as long and lingering shots of grass and a variety of landscapes that were reminiscent of Oscar-winner Nomadland. These shots were just captivating to look at as they created an entrancing and immersive experience that seemed to transport us as viewers into the very world that Prey is set in.
The gore-filled scenes are also visually captivating as they are just well done with the full utilization of amazing special effects. I particularly love the bright neon colors from the Predator’s blood which visually add depth to very dark scenes. It’s simply an aesthetic showcase from start to finish with each and every scene and moment containing an element of artistry and grandeur that create an almost indie-like vibe while still giving that huge reminder that we are watching an all-out blockbuster spectacle of a film.
Prey Review: Final Verdict
Prey as mentioned in this review is a visual spectacle that is unexpected from such a genre. There is a level of excellence that is unmatched by alien sci-fi films that focus on a cat and mouse chase kind of game. The story also reinvents itself from being the typical predator kind of film by including the rich storyline of the Comanche tribe as its anchor premise which adds a lot of depth and meaning not only for the story of Prey but also for the aforementioned group of people. There really isn’t anything much to fault with this one except for the initial pacing which, to be honest, makes a lot of sense to build the exposition of the story. We, therefore, give Prey an easy 9 out of 10 on our Hype Meter.
Hype Meter: 9/10
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