When I see a sequel, prequel or reboot of any decades old film property, I’m immediately skeptical. We’ve seen the countless amount of times studios have taken a beloved IP and stretched it for so long that it inevitably snapped. Most of these kind of films are obvious cashgrabs, but what about the ones that aren’t? That rare 1% that actually embarks on trying to tell an engaging story with the IP in both a respectful and refreshing way? They’re certainly hard to come by in this day and age, which makes them all the more impactful when we actually get one.
Prey is more or less one of those films. It takes the central idea, a Predator alien hunting the creatures of Earth for sport, and puts it into a new and unique setting, being the early 1700s and focusing on the people of the Comanche tribe. Naru, a skilled tracker set out to become an equally proficient hunter, must try to save herself and her people from this otherworldly threat. Knowing she is easily out muscled and outgunned, she must uses both wits and adaptation to defeat this terrifying threat.
The film is only the 2nd feature of director Dan Trachtenberg, who impressed the hell out of me with his tense and mysterious debut in 10 Cloverfield Lane. Like that film, Trachtenberg took a pre-established IP and gave it a fresh and unique follow-up, although I will say the only thing that film shares with the original Cloverfield is the name alone. Regardless, he showed what a competent director he was early on, and Prey is another clear example of his talents. The film is patiently paced, beautifully shot, and filled with plenty of exciting moments that show-off the brutality that made the Predator an icon in the first place. The film does a great job at enveloping you in colonial America, as well telling the story through underrepresented eyes. The films seems to do a significant job at honoring the Comanche tribes customs and background while still keeping the characters relatable to modern audiences. There’s even a whole dub of the film in the Comanche language, which I highly recommend you check out to get the most immersive experience possible.
Naru, played terrifically by Amber Midthunder, feels the need to prove herself to her tribe solely because they believe her to be incapable of completing her goal. While her brother and the rest of the tribal warriors brush off the signs of a huge impending threat, Naru’s observant nature allows her to clue into the Predator’s habits and characteristics. She’s not a “Mary Sue” like so many mouthbreathers online have dubbed her either. She’s resourceful and smart but she also fails as well. It’s the fact that she learns from those failures and analyzes her opponent, which makes her journey towards defeating the Predator all the more enjoyable and grounded.
Speaking of the Predator, he’s still the same weaponized force of nature from the past films, with some noticeable tweaks to his appearance, taking a more primitive approach to his outfits and weapons that makes sense considering it predates the first film by a few hundred years. We actually get to spend a decent amount of time with the Predator, allowing us to get more insight into his thought process and the rules it lives by, all without saying a word. The fights between him and anyone he comes across are pretty cool, although some of the action does suffer from annoying camera shakes meant to amplify the intensity of the fight, but just makes it a blurry mess. I did say I enjoyed the visuals though, particularly in the landscape glorifying cinematography. However, some of the visual effects can be pretty rough at times. The Predator looks pretty good, using a mix of what appears to be practical and digital effects, however some of the animals we see here are distractingly rubbery and fake-looking. It makes sense, there aren’t too many SAG card carrying bears or rattlesnakes out there, but I’ve definitely seen some more convincing models before. However, there is a pretty fantastic dog actor named Coco that gets a good amount of screentime and gives a solid authenticity to the film.
The Predator should be so lucky that he got a fairly good film so long after his debut, and hopefully filmmakers will take the positives out of this success. Is the positive the idea of a monster in a period piece? A little bit, yeah. But also, I think the biggest thing to take away is while the monster is the spectacle, having a character with genuine progression who we want to see succeed elevates your film to a whole other level. It’s more than the Final Girl trope though, going beyond stereotypes to find what makes us enthralled by a protagonist to begin with. Musclehead soldiers are cool, but a true underdog against both the threat and her own society is certainly worth watching.
I’ve always found the Native American tradition of utilizing every bit of an animal they kill so smart and respectful to nature. If a warrior were to be lucky enough to take down a Predator alien, I’m sure there’s a lot they could do with its body and equipment, but what about its blood? It glows a pretty prominent neon green and would certainly make anything it drenches stand out. Probably shouldn’t drink it though, but what if you could? If that were me back then I would simply turn it into a delicious cocktail. I’m just built different. But let’s live and the present and try our best to replicate some Predator blood in a way that looks and tastes great. I’ve opted to use aquavit to give it a little bit of herbaceousness, alongside some sweet green fruit pairings like lime, melon, and kiwi. It’s a refreshing and bright cocktail that I think you’ll enjoy.
- 2oz Akavit
- 1oz Kiwi juice
- 1/2oz Midori
- 1/2oz Simple syrup
- 1/4oz blue curacao
- Egg white
- Garnish: 3 drops Angostura bitters
- Add ingredients to shaker and dry shake (without ice) for about 15-20 seconds.
- Add ice to shaker and shake with ice.
- Double strain into chilled coup glass.
- Use an eyedropper to place 3 drops of angostura bitters in an upside-down triangle pattern (see above picture).