Much like the dreadlocked intergalactic hunter at its center, the Predator franchise just cannot be killed, no matter how many attempted reboots must fizzle out along the way. 2010’s Predators had sturdy horror fundamentals, but couldn’t really connect with audiences, and 2018’s Shane Black-directed The Predator was a self-satisfied letdown short on the original-flavor terror and faulty in the not-quite-clever humor used to compensate.
All of which has brought the studio formerly known as Fox to a smaller-scale and more unorthodox approach to the IP in the form of Prey, the first trailer for which arrived online this morning. No mercenaries, no guns, no white people at all — just the immutable drive to survive and the unalloyed instinct to kill.
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg (of 10 Cloverfield Lane notoriety), the upcoming film diverges from tradition first in its setting, in the unspoiled Comanche Nation still yet to be colonized by the settlers in from Europe. In this prelapsarian America, a warrior by the name of Naru (Amber Midthunder, of TV’s Legion, just one in a cast made up predominantly of First Nations actors) must use her wits and resourcefulness rather than technological advances to dispel the Predator come to lay waste to her village.
The commitment to honoring the Comanche elements of this film isn’t all lip service, either; Trachtenberg has confirmed that when Prey comes to its streaming home of Hulu, a Comanche-language dub will be available for those who’d rather not hear the indigenous characters speaking English. (One non-native member of the cast is Dane DiLiegro, a former basketball player towering enough to portray the insatiable alien death-dealer.)
While it’s disappointing to see a promising action project relegated to the direct-to-streaming pipeline — not to mention what downsizing a big-ticket series to the small screen says about the overall health of the industry — it’s nonetheless refreshing to see someone willing to take some unexpected gambles with a well-known character. When a franchise starts flagging, trying something completely different may very well be the best bet. And besides, the fear of getting torn to shreds by a behemoth with a mouth that opens into a square is universal, transcending cultures and time itself.
Prey comes to Hulu in the UK and US on 5 August.
Published 7 Jun 2022