What a unique approach to a sci-fi film! Prey (2022) is a prequel to the Predator movie. You know, the 1987 film where Schwarrzenegger goes full-force-testosterone fighting an alien warrior he meets in the Central American jungle? It led to a whole batch of additional movies like Predator 2, Alien vs. Predator, Predators, etc.
Prey is the Predator origin story, set 300 years prior to Arnold’s adventure, when the first extraterrestrial warrior scout came down to earth. It follows a girl named Naru from the Comanche Nation. Naru is desperate to prove herself as a warrior, but, the task isn’t easy. The women of her tribe take on the roles of healers and gatherers more than warriors, so no one is really taking her seriously.
One afternoon, Naru sees a strange “lightning” in the sky and tells her brother about it. He thinks nothing of it. A few days later while they’re out hunting, she comes across foreign tracks and a snake that’s been skinned alive. She tries to tell her hunting party that something strange is going on, but they dismiss her yet again.
Naru won’t be deterred. She’s determined and powerful, and good for her, because I feel like I would have given up waaay sooner than she does.
When she finally sees the creature for the first time (he mostly remains invisible) she has already had QUITE a day. First, she falls into a mud pit that she nearly drowns in. Then, she finds herself running from a pissed off grizzly who is hell bent on murdering her, until finally the grizzly attack is stopped only by the counter-murder of the alien who appears out of nowhere to destroy him. I think at that point, I would have just gone home. Maybe took a nap, smoked some herbs…tried to decompress.
Not Naru. She continues on the hunt for this unseen beast, and as the story goes on, she and her tribe find out the kind of demon they’re really dealing with.
There were a few things that I think made this sci-fi particularly awesome:
#1 Excellent acting and gorgeous scenery
I was trying to guess where they filmed this, because the wilderness is absolutely stunning. The end credits showed some logos for Alberta and Ontario, so I’m guessing it was Canada. It gave me serious The Revenant vibes and I loved how that backdrop helped set the tone of the film. The music also contributed well to its eerie and epic feel.
#2 The power of human ingenuity over technology
Unlike Arnold and his commando brethren, Naru and her tribe don’t have machine guns and rocket launchers to fight this alien with. This dude is decked out in all sorts of alien weaponry, giving him a huge advantage. He’s literally ripping animals and humans to shreds with minimal effort. Naru only has a bow and arrow, the ax her father left her, and her human ingenuity to fight back with. The more times she encounters the alien, the more she starts to learn about its behaviors and the way it hunts. Her observations and quick thinking are what help her survive, and ultimately devise an ingenious plan to take the monster down.
#3 A fresh take with blended genres
Sure, the film is sci-fi, but the time period and character portrayals give it a unique historical-fiction edge. We get a glimpse of Comanche life and culture during this time, we encounter some French fur trappers, and we see the day-to-day dangers of the untamed wilderness as it would have existed for these people. All-in-all it’s just a refreshing take on a science-fiction movie. It has its share of gore, bloodshed (do we really need to decapitate this many people?), and suspense, but it’s not corny or overdone. It sets a nice balance.
I would definitely recommend checking out Prey, even if you’ve never seen Predator. I don’t think you need to watch the first movie to appreciate this one. It’s got its own thing going on.