The scene with the bear is so cleverly staged that one wishes “Prey” hadn’t given us a good look at the Predator beforehand. As it yanks the bear from its pursuit, lifting it up for the kill, the invisible Predator is painted into view by an outpouring of blood. Naru sees this and runs like Hell. So begins a series of expertly crafted chase scenes, with our antagonist employing familiar and new ways to eviscerate its victims. There’s also a callback to one of the original film’s best lines: “if it bleeds, we can kill it.” Bleed it does, with a neon green blood that, at one point, Naru uses as war paint.
Adding another element of danger (as well as fresh meat for viewers hungry for Predator-based carnage) is a slew of uncouth French fur trappers. When Naru stumbles upon a field of skinned buffalo, she prays over them, thinking that this is the monster’s handiwork. Soon she realizes it’s man, that other evil predator, who is responsible. Even though they agree with Naru that something otherworldly is out there, the trappers are even more villainous than the Predator. So we’re not sorry when they start getting splattered.
“Prey” is a worthy successor to Ah-nuld’s original, even though there are no “choppas” for anyone to get to in 1719. Naru deserves to be added to the list of tough characters who can hold their own against the Predator. She uses brains and brawn in equal measure to handle all of her foes, dispatching them with gory efficiency. Nature also proves a cruel adversary, but she’s ready for that as well. The film creates a portrait of her Comanche nation without othering them—they are the heroes of the story and their village teems with a sense of camaraderie. Even though the film is mostly in English (a full Comanche language version was apparently also shot in tandem), it does not endanger our suspension of disbelief.
Despite the expected whine from immature males who haven’t seen the movie yet but are already deeming it “too woke,” “Predator” fans will not be disappointed by “Prey.” It’s a scary and fun amusement park ride that also elicits a surprisingly tender emotional response. When Naru finally let out the war cry she had previously been denied, I couldn’t help but cheer. It’s too bad I couldn’t do it with an audience full of equally excited viewers.
On Hulu tomorrow, August 5th.