FilmsScifi

Prey (2022) (Geoff’s film review).

Note: Contrary to the official trailer, the film is in English, with subtitles provided only for Comanche dialogue directed at the dogs.

I’ve had my eyes on ‘Prey’ since its announcement. Until recently, the only way to obtain a disc copy was from Sri Lanka. Is an exclusive TV deal so restricting that those who don’t subscribe to a particular digital channel are barred from accessing the film? Fortunately, my patience paid off. Currently, genuine Blu-rays are available for a reasonable price on an auction website.

Naru, a spirited Comanche woman portrayed by Amber Midthunder, interprets a thunderbird sign in the sky (actually a passing spacecraft) as a forthcoming trial. Tasked with fetching orange tulsi flowers, she, alongside her brother Taabe (played by Dakota Beavers) and other braves, sets out in search of a large mountain lion. Naru is known not just as a potential warrior but also a skilled tracker and medicine woman. Their quest diverts when they discover an injured brave, presumably attacked by the mountain lion. However, a more pressing concern emerges: an alien predator lurking nearby.

After Naru is knocked unconscious during a nocturnal face-off with the mountain lion, Taabe, doubtful of her capabilities, returns her to their camp. The next morning, undeterred, Naru trails them, stumbles upon traces of green blood, and grapples with various challenges—a predator attacking a bear, her tribespeople’s intent to bring her home before they’re eliminated by the predator, and a confrontation with white trappers who have captured Taabe, using them both as bait. What follows are jaw-dropping twists that’ll captivate viewers.

This predator is not primarily hunting humans but seems more interested in the local wildlife. Its prey escalates from large snakes to wolves and bisons, often skinning them and collecting their skulls.

Beautifully shot, the film offers a deep dive into Native American culture and landscapes. Director Dan Trachtenberg artfully maintains suspense. For instance, although the tribe carries flaming torches, he ensures they avoid total darkness. He also subtly diverges from traditional settings and the typical portrayal of the predator. This predator, played by Dane DiLegro, is markedly more primal. Lacking the iconic shoulder gun, it wields a weapon firing three darts. The traditional helmet is also absent, with this predator preferring close-quarter confrontations—unless outnumbered. It doesn’t possess the familiar thermal nuclear either, which makes sense, considering Earth’s perceived primitiveness. Trachtenberg’s choice to reveal the predator gradually intensifies the suspense. For those unfamiliar with the preceding four ‘Predator’ films, this can be a fresh experience. For fans, there are familiar elements and references, including quotes from the original movie.

In summary, ‘Prey’ is stellar! It seamlessly integrates into the ‘Predator’ franchise, impressing without mimicking its predecessors. My only gripe is the absence of additional content, though it did expedite this review.

The possibility of exploring earlier predator encounters on Earth is tantalizing. Still, I hope future narratives incorporate modern-day confrontations. It’s also essential to depict some predators triumphing. As ‘Predator 2’ showed, they sometimes prevail. A consistent portrayal of human victories risks making their feats seem implausible. We need a balanced narrative.

GF Willmetts

September 2023

(pub: 20th Century Fox, 2023. 1 blu-ray disk 90 minute film with no extras.

cast: Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers and Dane DiLegro

UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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