Saturday, 6 August 2022

Film Review: Prey

 

The seventh (of fifth, depending on how you count it?) Predator film is a return to basics.

Director Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) winds back the clock to the 18th century, for a straightforward story that pits the Predator against a young Comanche warrior and her tribespeople. 

The last couple of movies in this series (2010's Predators, 2018's The Predator) had redeeming qualities, but fell short of recapturing the magic of the original Arnie action classic. On the other hand, Prey, despite being dumped on Disney+, is probably the closet we've come to date.

By virtue of its setting, Prey is stripped-back and simple. Amber Midthunder plays Naru, a Comanche girl who is determined to prove herself worthy as a huntress, while the men in her tribe hold her back. The tribe is soon beset by tragedy when a Predator shows up, thrusting Naru and her brother (Dakota Beavers) into a mano e mano tussle, where they find themselves outclassed and lacking in firepower.

The filmmakers have gone to great lengths to make Prey as authentic as possible, despite the fact that it features an interstellar hunter I guess. There's two versions of this film, one with English dialogue and some Comanche woven in, and another that's dubbed entirely in Comanche. 

Trachtenberg shoots the fight scenes with lots of slick handheld, and the kills – of which there are many – are gooey and crunchy. When it comes to action, Prey eases you into it, with a slow(ish) first act, before launching into an engrossing second and third. 

There are vast swathes of this film where Midthunder is by herself and effectively without dialogue. So much of the storytelling, character development and emotional arc is conveyed wordlessly through her performance, and it's not until later in the film where she regroups with her brother and they cross paths with some French fur traders, that you realise she was ever flying solo. 

Plus, the film looks incredible. The natural beauty of what I think is Colorado is captured wonderfully by Jeff Cutter, with verdant greens, warm yellows, eerie greys and sticky brows. A shame then, that Disney saw fit to bypass theatres entirely, where those visuals would surely pop the most.

The Verdict: 8/10

Wonderfully simple and efficient in its execution, it's a wonder why they haven't been doing this since the original. A tight, taut sci-fi action film that in a just world would be ringing the tills at theatres for weeks to come, rather than unceremoniously plonked on our TVs. 

Prey is streaming on Disney+ now.

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