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'Prey' director on how the film serves as a clever homage to the original 'Predator'

The hunt begins on Hulu Friday, Aug. 5.

By Josh Weiss
PREY (2022)

The concept of Predator aliens (or Yautja, if you prefer) coming to our planet for hundreds — if not thousands — of years to hunt human beings goes back a little over three decades to the ending of Predator 2 when Lieutenant Mike Harrigan (played by Danny Glover) was handed an 18th century pistol.

The long-running sci-fi/horror/action film franchise will further explore that idea next month in Hulu's Prey, which serves as both prequel and soft reboot. Helmed by Dan Trachtenberg (director of 10 Cloverfield Lane and an episode of The Boys), the project takes place 300 years in the past and centers around a Naru (The Ice Road's Amber Midthunder), a Comanche warrior who finds herself at odds with a fierce hunter from beyond the stars (Dane DiLiegro).

Recently chatting with Empire for the magazine's August 2022 issue (now on sale) Trachtenberg explained that the decision to follow a Native American protagonist stemmed from a desire to pay homage to a supporting character in the 1987 original: Sonny Landham's Billy. "I wanted to shift the focus to someone who would normally be a sidekick," the filmmaker said. "In Predator, Billy was just one of the men on the team. In Prey, we're watching someone lead this movie that has never led this type of movie before."

Despite the Predator's access to advanced technology we can only dream of, the playing field is a little more level this time around. "The premise is David versus Goliath — I didn't want to make Goliath smaller," the director admitted. "It doesn't have its Plasma Caster, but it does have heat vision and other tools."

To ensure cultural accuracy, the movie relied on Native Comanche producer Jhane Myers (Monsters of God); Comanche educator Juanita Pahdopony; and a cast comprised of Native and First Nation performs like Midthunder, newcomer Dakota Beavers, Stormee Kipp (Sooyii), Michelle Thrush (The Journey Home), and Julian Black Antelope (Tribal).

While the film's sparse dialogue is in English, a Comanche-dubbed version will also be available. "It's a little more sophisticated than perhaps our memory of watching dubbed movies," Trachtenberg said. "There's a 'lip match' [choosing words to match the actors' mouth movements as closely as possible] that we do now. It won't be like watching old kung fu movies." Even so, the vast majority of the runtime is taken up by that old screenwriting adage of show, don't tell." 

Trachtenberg continued: "It created a guiding purpose for the storytelling. Telling a story primilary through actions, through human behavior, I find that to be delightful."

Written by Patrick Aison (Treadstone), the film was executive produced by Lawrence Gordon (Watchmen), Ben Rosenblatt (Snowpiercer), James E. Thomas, John C. Thomas and Marc Toberoff (Fantasy Island). John Davis (The Predator), and Marty Ewing (It: Chapter Two) serve as producers.

Prey arrives on Hulu Friday, Aug. 5

Looking for more sci-fi cinema? Jordan Peele's NOPE arrives in theaters everywhere on Friday, July 22.