Prey
Prey 2022 poster.png
Official release poster
Directed byDan Trachtenberg
Screenplay byPatrick Aison
Story by
  • Patrick Aison
  • Dan Trachtenberg
Based on
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyJeff Cutter
Edited by
  • Angela M. Catanzaro
  • Claudia Castello
Music bySarah Schachner
Production
companies
Distributed by
Release dates
  • July 21, 2022 (2022-07-21) (San Diego Comic-Con)
  • August 5, 2022 (2022-08-05) (United States)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
Languages

Prey is a 2022 American science fiction horror action film directed by Dan Trachtenberg and written by Patrick Aison, based on the Predator franchise by Jim Thomas and John Thomas. It is the fifth installment in the franchise and a prequel to the first four films. It stars Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, Michelle Thrush, Stormee Kipp, Julian Black Antelope, and Dane DiLiegro. The story revolves around Naru, a skilled Comanche warrior, protecting her tribe from a highly evolved alien predator that hunts humans for sport, fighting against the wilderness and fur traders to keep her people safe.

Development of the film began during the production of The Predator (2018), when producer John Davis was approached by Trachtenberg and Aison, with a concept that they had been developing since 2016. The film's title was revealed to be the codename for the fifth installment in the franchise. Prey premiered at the San Diego Comic-Con on July 21, 2022, and was released by 20th Century Studios as a Hulu original film in the United States on August 5, 2022. The film received positive reviews with praise for the action sequences, Midthunder's performance, visual effects, direction, screenplay, cinematography, and the Comanche representation, with critics calling it the best Predator film since the first film.[2][3]

Plot

In 1719 in the Great Plains, Naru, a young Comanche woman trained as a healer, dreams of becoming a great hunter like her brother, Taabe. While tracking deer with her dog, Sarii, she witnesses an anomaly in the sky which she likens to the Thunderbird (actually a Predator spacecraft); she takes this as a sign to prove herself. Taabe agrees to bring her to join the search party for a cougar that attacked one of the tribe's hunters, but only so she can provide medical treatment if they find the hunter alive. They retrieve the wounded hunter and depart, though Taabe stays behind to find the cougar.

Finding unusual tracks and a meticulously skinned rattlesnake, Naru circles back with Paake and finds Taabe. Together they set a trap for the cougar but it kills Paake. Naru wounds the cat but falls and strikes her head after being distracted by a burst of light in the distance. Taabe carries her home and returns to kill the weakened cougar, earning him title of War Chief. Convinced of a greater threat, Naru departs with Sarii; they come across a herd of skinned bison, and later are attacked by a grizzly bear. The bear is killed by the Predator, giving Naru time to escape before running into a group of Comanche sent to find her; the creature ambushes and kills them in combat. When Naru is caught in an foothold trap, the Predator leaves, as she is no longer a threat.

French voyageurs, responsible for killing and skinning the bison, find Naru and cage her. Their translator, Raphael Adolini, questions Naru about the Predator. When she refuses to talk, the lead voyageur reveals that he has Taabe captive and tortures him with a knife before using the siblings as tied-bait for the Predator. The creature kills most of the voyageurs while Taabe and Naru escape. Naru rescues Sarii from the camp and stumbles across a dying Raphael, who teaches her how to use his flintlock pistol in exchange for medical treatment. Naru gives him herbs that reduce his body heat to staunch the bleeding. When the Predator arrives, Raphael plays dead, and Naru realizes that the creature cannot see him. Raphael is killed after the Predator steps on his wounded leg, causing him to scream.

Taabe arrives on horseback to rescue Naru. They weaken the creature, but it kills Taabe after stabbing him through the back. Naru flees and finds the surviving lead voyageur. She knocks him out, severs one of his legs, and gives him an unloaded gun before eating the herbs to hide her body heat, baiting the creature to kill him. She uses Adolini's pistol to ambush the Predator, knocking off its laser-targeting mask; she steals it and flees into the woods.

Naru lures the Predator into a mud-filled bog pit before using the creature's mask to turn its own projectile weapon against it. The Predator dies of its wounds, and Naru severs its head and paints her face with its glowing green blood. She brings the head and the flintlock pistol[a] back to her tribe. The tribe honors her victory as Naru becomes War Chief. A cave painting in the end credits depicts three Predator spaceships arriving in Commanche territory.

Cast

Production

Development and casting

Dan Trachtenberg on the set of "The Totally Rad Show" in 2007.
Amber Midthunder at the 2019 WonderCon for "Legion" in Anaheim, California.
Prey is the second feature film from director Dan Trachtenberg (left) after 10 Cloverfield Lane. It stars Amber Midthunder (right) in the lead role as Naru.

The film began development during the production of the prior Predator film, titled The Predator (2018), when producer John Davis was approached by Dan Trachtenberg and screenwriter Patrick Aison, with a concept they had been conceptualizing since 2016.[4] Former 20th Century Studios Production president Emma Watts fast-tracked the development of the film prior to her resignation in January 2020.[5][6] It was conceived as an R-rated film.[5]

In December 2019, the film was initially under wraps, going by the name of Skulls. The film reportedly was to "follow a Comanche woman who goes against gender norms and traditions to become a warrior". It was to be directed by Trachtenberg and written by Aison.[7] In November 2020, Skulls was revealed to be a codename for a fifth installment in the Predator franchise, with the same creative team working on the film. It was not expected to correlate to the events of the prior installment.[8] Upon the announcement, Trachtenberg indicated that the original intention was to market the film with no reference to the Predators, something no longer possible with the confirmation of the film's place in the franchise.[4]

In May 2021, Amber Midthunder was announced to star.[9] On November 12, 2021, Disney+ Day, the film was given the title Prey, and announced for a mid-2022 release on Hulu and Disney+ internationally.[10] Trachtenberg explained his goal for the film was to get back to the roots of the franchise: "the ingenuity of a human being who won't give up, who's able to observe and interpret, basically being able to beat a stronger, more powerful, well-armed force."[1]

Filming

Cinematographer Jeff Cutter shot the film. Filming occurred in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, in 2021.[11] Jhane Myers, a member of both the Comanche Nation and the Blackfeet Nation,[12] served as a producer on the film.[13] Describing filming near Calgary, Myers stated, "We were shooting on Stoney Nakoda land. [Midthunder] is part Nakoda—even I am on my grandmother's side. Usually when we start a production, someone comes in and does a cedar ceremony and blesses everything. But because we had so many Indigenous people on the cast, First Nation people too, and since we were on true plains land, they sent out two pipe carriers and two smudge people to have a pipe ceremony."[12] The pipe ceremony was conducted outside Calgary by local Indigenous leaders and attended by Midthunder and her co-stars Beavers and Kipp, as well as Myers and Trachtenberg, among others.[12]

In July 2021, Davis revealed that the film was officially three quarters of the way finished.[5] In September, filming wrapped and the castings of Dakota Beavers and Dane DiLiegro were confirmed.[14] Sarii, Naru's dog companion, was played by a Carolina dog named Coco that was adopted and trained specifically for the film. The idea of giving Naru a dog companion was inspired by Mad Max 2. Initially, Coco was to be in fewer scenes but they found with her training and energy, they were able to include the dog in several more scenes including some of the action sequences.[15]

Language

Trachtenberg said they discussed whether they should start the film with characters speaking the Comanche language before switching to English for the benefit of the audience, similar to the Russian language in The Hunt for Red October (1990). They considered doing something similar at first but ultimately felt it did not work. The film was shot in English and Comanche, with the entire cast performing an alternate all-Comanche dub of the film. Both language versions are available on Hulu.[1]

Special effects

During post-production, Moving Picture Company and Industrial Light and Magic provided the visual effects.[16] Amalgamated Dynamics Inc. (ADI) was hired to work on the special and creature effects on the film, having previously worked on The Predator and the crossover films Alien vs. Predator (2004) and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007).[17]

Music

Sarah Schachner composed the musical score.[18] The soundtrack album was released by Hollywood Records on August 5, 2022.[19]

Historical accuracy

During the film's production, Myers provided binders of reference materials to the production team.[13] Myers advised the production on creating a period-accurate toothbrush, which Midthunder can be seen using in the film.[13] An early draft of the script did not include mention of horses; Myers insisted that horses be added, later stating, "We're a horse culture, so you can see that in [the character of] Taabe and his horse riding. And then you can see that in the camps where we have horses. When I originally saw the first script, there were no horses in it. And I said, 'You can't have Comanches without horses!' So that's where that came in, and when we wrote the Taabe scene."[20]

Brad Curran of Screen Rant described the Comanche characters' clothing, village setting, and hunting lifestyle depicted in the film as historically accurate, along with the depiction of the French settlers as hostile towards the Comanche.[21] Curran added that the film makes traditional Comanche gender roles "central to its story", writing that, in Comanche culture, men took on more physical roles as hunters and warriors, while women served as caregivers who oversaw homes and children.[21]

Release

Prey premiered at the San Diego Comic-Con on July 21, 2022, and was released by 20th Century Studios as a Hulu original film on August 5, 2022.[22][23] It was also released on Disney+ Hotstar in Southeast Asian territories, on Star+ in Latin America and on Disney+ as part of the Star content hub in other international territories.[24][23]

Reception

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 92% of 191 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 7.6/10. The website's consensus reads, "The rare action thriller that spikes adrenaline without skimping on character development, Prey is a Predator sequel done right."[25] Metacritic gave the film a weighted average score of 71 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[26] It is the highest-rated Predator film on both websites.[27]

David Fear of Rolling Stone referred to the film as a "long-awaited masterpiece" and "series highlight", and compared Midthunder's character favorably to Ellen Ripley of the Alien films.[28] Andrew Webster of The Verge admired "how patient it is", adding: "what makes Prey work is its simplicity. It never strays from its concept, instead slowly building up the tension before reaching a very exciting battle."[29] Belen Edwards of Mashable called it "intimate and character-driven, with more than enough action to satisfy the most die-hard Predator fans ... even if you've never watched a Predator movie, chances are you'll love Prey. It's just that good."[30]

In a 3.5 out of 4 star review, Odie Henderson of RogerEbert.com praised Naru's character and the representation of the Comanche Nation, and called the film a "scary and fun amusement park ride that also elicits a surprisingly tender emotional response".[31] Tom Jorgensen of IGN rated it 8 out of 10, commended the level of violence and tension depicted across the action sequences, and felt the story was simple without being simplistic.[32] James Dyer of Empire rated the movie 4 out of 5 stars and found it to be the best Predator since the original, with a "ferocious heroine, authentic period setting, and a bloody string of inventive action beats".[33]

Future

In June 2022, Trachtenberg stated that there are discussions for additional installments to be developed after the release of Prey, saying their intent was to "do things that have not been done before" in the franchise.[34]

Notes

  1. ^ The engraving on the gun reveals it is the same weapon that a Predator gives Mike Harrigan in 1997 during the events of Predator 2 (1990).

References

  1. ^ a b c Colangelo, BJ (June 7, 2022). "Prey Will Give Viewers The Option To Watch The Film In The Comanche Language". /Film. Retrieved July 31, 2022.
  2. ^ "Here's What Critics Are Saying About Prey". Looper. August 1, 2022.
  3. ^ "Prey Reviews Are In, And The Critics Can't Stop Talking About Amber Midthunder, Star Of The New Predator Movie". CinemaBlend. August 3, 2022.
  4. ^ a b Dan Trachtenberg [@DannyTRS] (November 20, 2020). "This was meant to be a surprise. Been working on this for almost 4 years now. I am very sad that what we had in store for how you could discover this movie will no longer happen. It's a bummer. But also...YAY!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  5. ^ a b c Sneider, Jeff (July 27, 2021). "Exclusive: New 'Predator' Movie Title, Plot Details, and Timeline Revealed by Producers John Davis and John Fox". Collider. Archived from the original on July 27, 2021. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  6. ^ Lang, Brent (January 30, 2020). "Emma Watts Resigns as Twentieth Century Studios Production President". Variety. Archived from the original on July 27, 2021. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  7. ^ Fisher, Jacob (December 12, 2019). "Dan Trachtenberg Set To Direct 'Skulls' For Fox/Disney (Exclusive)". Discussing Film. Archived from the original on December 12, 2019. Retrieved November 22, 2020.
  8. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (November 20, 2020). "'Predator' Returning With '10 Cloverfield Lane' Helmer Dan Trachtenberg At 20th Century Studios". Deadline. Archived from the original on November 20, 2020. Retrieved November 22, 2020.
  9. ^ Fisher, Jacob (May 21, 2021). "Amber Midthunder Cast in Lead Role of New 'Predator' Film (Exclusive)". DiscussingFilm. Archived from the original on May 21, 2021. Retrieved May 21, 2021.
  10. ^ Aurthur, Kate (November 12, 2021). "Predator Prequel Prey to Stream on Hulu in Summer 2022". Variety. Archived from the original on November 12, 2021. Retrieved November 12, 2021.
  11. ^ Lowery, Mike (February 16, 2021). "Predator 5 synopsis revealed ahead of Calgary shoot". Movie Hole. Archived from the original on February 16, 2021. Retrieved April 16, 2021.
  12. ^ a b c Ingram, Simon (August 5, 2022). "Why sci-fi movie Prey moves the needle for Indigenous American visibility". National Geographic. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  13. ^ a b c Galuppo, Mia (August 4, 2022). "Next Big Thing: 'Prey' Star Amber Midthunder on Bringing an Indigenous Action Hero Into 'Predator' Franchise". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  14. ^ Oddo, Marco Vitto (September 13, 2021). "New 'Predator' Movie Wraps Filming and Reveals Cast". Collider. Archived from the original on May 11, 2022. Retrieved September 13, 2021.
  15. ^ Ryan, Danielle (August 6, 2022). "The Dog Actor In Prey Was Adopted Especially For The Movie ⁠⁠– And She Was A 'Hot Mess'". Slash Film. Retrieved August 7, 2022.
  16. ^ "Filmography". MPC Film. Archived from the original on May 16, 2022. Retrieved June 2, 2022.
  17. ^ Marc, Christopher (June 12, 2021). "'Predator 5': Studio ADI Officially Returns To Handle Creature Effects". The Ronin. Archived from the original on June 13, 2021. Retrieved June 9, 2022.
  18. ^ "Sarah Schachner Scoring Dan Trachtenberg's Prey". Film Music Reporter. June 16, 2022. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  19. ^ "'Prey' Soundtrack Album Details". Film Music Reporter. August 4, 2022. Retrieved August 4, 2022.
  20. ^ Cremona, Patrick (August 5, 2022). "How the Predator prequel Prey draws on real history". The Radio Times. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  21. ^ a b Curran, Brad (August 8, 2022). "How Accurate Prey Is To Real Life Comanche Culture & History". Screen Rant. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  22. ^ Squires, John (July 8, 2022). "Hulu Movie Prey Will World Premiere on the Big Screen at San Diego Comic-Con This Month". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved July 18, 2022.
  23. ^ a b 20th Century Studios [@20thcentury] (May 16, 2022). "Prey is coming to @hulu August 5" (Tweet). Retrieved May 16, 2022 – via Twitter.
  24. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 12, 2021). "'Predator' Prequel Gets Title & Sets Summer 2022 Release". Deadline. Archived from the original on November 12, 2021. Retrieved November 12, 2021.
  25. ^ "Prey". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  26. ^ "Prey Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  27. ^ "Prey Is The Top Rated Predator Movie On Both Rotten Tomatoes And Metacritic". The Geek. August 6, 2022.
  28. ^ Fear, David; Fear, David (August 4, 2022). "'Prey' Gives the 'Predator' Franchise Its Long-Awaited Masterpiece". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 5, 2022.
  29. ^ Webster, Andrew (August 3, 2022). "Prey understands what makes Predator interesting: the hunt". The Verge. Retrieved August 5, 2022.
  30. ^ Edwards, Belen (August 5, 2022). "'Prey' review: Brilliant 'Predator' prequel is a must-watch". Mashable. Retrieved August 5, 2022.
  31. ^ Henderson, Odie. "Prey movie review & film summary (2022) | Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com. Retrieved August 5, 2022.
  32. ^ Jorgensen, Tom (August 3, 2022). "Prey Review". IGN. Retrieved August 5, 2022.
  33. ^ "Prey". Empire. Retrieved August 5, 2022.
  34. ^ de Semlyen, Phil (June 28, 2022). "'Prey': Everything you need to know about the new 'Predator' movie". TimeOut. Retrieved July 20, 2022.