Hulu’s Prey Movie Review

At the heart of the Predator franchise is an inherently exciting prospect: what happens when Earth’s toughest hunters find themselves the prey to something far worse? The 1987 movie Predator leaned heavily into this concept, even as other entries in the franchise have gotten more focused on the minutia and lore of the world. Prey isn’t like those, instead taking that core thematic premise, translating it into a new setting, and letting it play out to tremendous effect. Prey is an utterly fantastic film, finding a perfect balance between evocative filmmaking, strong performances, and thrilling action. It’s arguably the best entry in the franchise and well worth checking out, even for those who have never seen a Predator movie.

Directed by Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane), Prey picks up on a piece of lore established in Predator 2 and takes place in the 18th century in the Comanche Nation. Naru (Amber Midthunder) is the younger sister of Taabe (Dakota Beavers), a skilled hunter who has become something of a leader among their tribe. Naru is desperate to prove herself just as skilled at tracking and hunting as her sibling and (unfortunately) gets her wish when something descends from the sky and starts stalking their nearby woods. This mysterious creature — known to audiences as a Predator (Dane DiLiegro) — has officially begun a new hunt, and soon Naru, Taabe, and their fellow hunters find themselves as prey to the night-unstoppable killer.

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From a visual standpoint, Prey looks absolutely fantastic. Alongside Cinematographer Jeff Cutter (who also collaborated on 10 Cloverfield Lane), Trachtenberg delivers a perpetually engrossing experience that turns each new part of the forest and surrounding area into a clear locale. There are plenty of little filmmaking tricks used throughout that keep the natural environment exciting, and the film retains a steady sense of location and weight regardless of the situation. This proves crucial to some of the more tense sequences of the film, as the Predator’s sheer size and strength are offset by its ability to blend into any location and create an air of immediate tension. When the film wants to be, it can be genuinely gorgeous or graphically gory in equal measures, and Trachtenberg deserves kudos for finding such a strong balance between the two.

Likewise, the relatively small cast brings their all to the proceedings, giving their characters a very grounded sense of personality and movement that helps keep the horror or action from getting away. Midthunder quickly earns her place in the pantheon of great horror/sci-fi heroes, and Beavers proves to be ideally cast as the confident but kind Taabe. The pair have strong chemistry throughout, and both prove as adept at wringing pure emotion out of wordless scenes as they are fighting the hulking Predator. DiLiegro also does a solid job as Predator, with little moments of frustration, confidence, and surprise conveyed entirely in his physicality.

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All the strong acting and solid filmmaking aside, Prey is also just a really fun film, finding a solid balance between the action, the characters, and the horror inherent to the premise. The fight sequences are well-crafted and flow easily from impressive acrobatics to horrifying kills in quick order, keeping audiences guessing every time a fight breaks out. There’s a genuine sense of stakes, given the circumstances, and even telegraphed beats can swerve for a thrilling experience throughout. The fight choreography is incredibly impressive, and the film finds plenty of unique touches to keep the combat rolling while still being natural and exciting.

The action in Prey alone would make the film worth checking out, and there’s so much else to the film that elevates it. It’s easily the best-directed film in the Predator franchise, and the streamlined (but specific) storyline gives the cast plenty of room to flesh out their characters with only a relative handful of dialogue-heavy scenes. The sheer level of artistry that went into this film and into all aspects of the production cannot be understated. Prey is one of the best horror films of the year and definitely one of the most exciting entrants of (an admittedly very crowded) summer. Even those who have never seen a Predator film before should make sure to check out Prey.

Prey premieres on Hulu on Aug. 5.

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