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Prey

Reviewed by Galen Strickland
Posted August 9, 2022

A Hulu Exclusive

If you have Hulu this is a must see. If you don't, it's a very good reason to check out at least a free trial. I suspect it was originally intended for theatrical release, and it looks like a theatrical film, with gorgeous cinematography, expert action sequences, and impressive visual effects. But there is a lot of turmoil in the industry these days, higher production costs, Covid protocols, extra expense of promotion if it was destined for theaters, plus a revolving door of executive shifts, some of which kill a previous regime's pet projects. Why did it end up a Hulu "Original"? It was produced by 20th Century Fox studios (are they ever going to update their name?), which is now owned by Disney, which also owns, or at least is a major partner in Hulu now. There have been a few other shows and films that could have streamed on Disney+, but due to more mature themes or other concerns they went to Hulu instead. In searching for an image to use here I found one poster obviously made months ago, which said it was going to be on Disney+. I know from past experience that studios frequently struggle with how to promote certain films. Did they think a largely Native American cast would not be a big draw in theaters? We may never know, just as we might never learn all the details of why Warner Brothers nixed Batgirl after spending upwards of $100 million.

Enough of that, let's talk about the film itself. The only criticism I can think of now is the time period it is set in, 1719, at least as how it relates to the Comanche. Historically, they roamed the Southern plains, perhaps as far north as Kansas or Nebraska, but mainly North Texas and Oklahoma. The locations they used were in Alberta, Canada, and it's apparent we're not in Kansas anymore. If the Comanche ever were that far north it was long before the 18th Century, because by that time it was Cherokee and Lakota land. That is a minor concern though since the locations highlight both the vastness of the tribe's domain, the plains where they pitched camps near sparkling streams, the valleys rich in game and wild plants for food and medicines, but also the nearby mountains that held the dangers of lions and bears. A lion attack begins the adventure for Naru (Amber Midthunder). Naru's mother and the other women think it is their job to gather food, herbs, and flowers, tend to the camp, and care for the children. It is the men's job to hunt and protect the tribe.

Yet Naru knows she has the ability to hunt, and even her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) acknowledges that she is a very good tracker. Besides, if they are lucky to find Puhi alive after the lion attack, Naru would be helpful in treating his wounds. They do find him, but his wounds are too extreme for her to treat with the minimal herbs she has, so she and other braves take him back to the village, while Taabe and another continue tracking the lion. She circles back to help her brother, convinced there is an even bigger threat, since she had found tracks much bigger than she had ever seen before, bigger than any bear she could imagine. She is sure that whatever made those tracks had also frightened off the lion before it could kill Puhi. This is not only a tribute to the Comanche, to their bravery and ingenuity living in a harsh land, but also a tale of a girl desperate to prove herself to those who consider themselves superior. That Naru is the one successful in confronting the Predator might be the same reason others in her own tribe criticized her efforts; the alien did not perceive her to be as much of a threat. Was it ever wrong about that. That is not to say the rest of her tribe were not good or brave enough. They faced a threat head-on when the wise thing would have been to run. Naru had skills and endurance, but her greatest strengths were her mind, her observational skills, and her deductive reasoning.

I realize now I've seen Amber Midthunder in a few other shows, but she wasn't a major character so she didn't make a lasting impression. She is extremely impressive here, and now I want to check out more of her work. I've just about given up on the CW, but may check out Roswell, New Mexico, even though I didn't care for the original version of that story. There is a lot of CGI here, so it's hard to say exactly how much we see is her own work. I suspect her innovation of weaving a rope to easily retrieve her hatchet is mostly CGI. Otherwise, that would be a very difficult stunt to pull off without injury. I don't know if it will, but this should appeal to anyone who likes action films, whether or not they've seen any of the others in the Predator series. It could be viewed as a fantasy film based on old Native legends. At one point one of the tribe accuses Naru of imagining a monster out of a children's story. Viewed that way, it is possible this was not the first time a Predator visited their lands; previous encounters might have been the genesis of those children's stories. And if you watch the first part of the end credits, which depicts Native art telling the story, you would not be wrong in assuming it will not be the last time they face a Predator. If a sequel is made with Naru, or maybe it will be the young girl (Samiyah Crowfoot) who looks up to her with great pride at the end, I will be first in line to see it. I've watched Prey twice already, and it won't be the last. The first time I chose the Comanche dub version, the second time was in English with occasional Comanche dialog. I prefer the former, but recommend this film whole-heartedly, no matter which version you chose.

 

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Director
Dan Trachtenberg

Screenplay
Patrick Aison

Released
August 5, 2022

Cast
Amber Midthunder
Dakota Beavers
Dane DiLiegro
Stormee Kipp
Michelle Thrush
Tymon Carter
Skye Pelletier
Harlan Kytwayhat
Corvin Mack
Samuel Marty
Julian Black Antelope
Stefany Mathias
Bennett Taylor
Mike Paterson
Samiyah Crowfoot

Full Credits at IMDb

A Hulu Exclusive