Film review ‘Prey’: this is how you restart a horror franchise

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The Predator franchise is the ugly stepchild of the horror monster gun. Fans know about it, are aware of it, but don’t necessarily give it the credit it deserves. Starring the original movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, the sequel starring Danny Glover, a couple… Alien vs Predator crossover movies and an attempted reboot in 2018, it’s the only franchise that lacks consistency. Director Dan Trachtenberg, however, gives the film a new edge by putting the titular monster in an 18th-century setting to see the humans pit against the advanced technology of the warrior creature.

Naru (Amber Midthunder) is a Comanche woman who wants to become a warrior by participating in the ‘kühtaamia’, a rite of passage in which the hunter hunts the hunter who hunts them. Many in her tribe don’t think she’s ready for the experience yet, despite being a bit of a skilled fighter. She gets a chance to prove herself when one of the children is taken from her village. Naru, her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) and other young warriors try to save the child. The Predator arrives on the same day as the kidnapping. When the two cross paths, all hell breaks loose.

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There are many similarities between Prey and apocalypto, but Prey stands alone for its sharp storytelling and uber-strong Midthunder performance. The goal isn’t just to kill or be killed (which includes a lot of graphic deaths, of course), but there’s a level of coherence and emotional intelligence that many other monster movies refuse to address. At each increasing moment of this journey, Naru experiences a change in front of the camera, and it’s not just casually talked about.

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Prey is a risky venture for 20th Century and Hulu to undertake. The director puts his trust in a relative newcomer to carry the film. Women rarely become the heroes of these stories, and women of color are often left out altogether. The cast is mainly made up of native actors with a story that revolves solely around their lived experiences. Trachtenberg took an unprecedented risk here and succeeded. Hopefully this will set the standard for the genre in general.

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There are some little winks to others Predator movies and delivers the familiar kills and suspense, while also introducing a new generation to a potential new action star in Midthunder. Predator is one of those creatures that can exist at any time. They can fight and have great gadgets, but their greatest weapon is their ability to test the human mind, leaving it ripe for further exploration.

It was the right move to debut the film on streaming (although a theatrical release would have been excellent), as it is accessible for people to watch from home.

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