Hulu's Prey is easily the best Predator spin-off we have till date. Released 35 years ago, the original Predator movie went on to produce six sequels, all of which deteriorated in quality one after the other. The seventh installment, which serves as a prequel and an origin story of sorts to Predator, looks hopeful.
In the world of entertainment where sequels and spin-offs have become rampant and random, creating a franchise out of every moderately well-received movie, a prequel like Prey is hard to come by.
What is the connection between Prey and the Predator movies?
The movie follows the story of Naru, a young woman from the Comanche tribe, eager to prove herself as a skilled warrior to her male counterparts who are dismissive of her abilities. But little did she anticipate that her quest would bring her face-to-face with a predator that is nothing like anything she has encountered before.
Naru is a skilled warrior, twice as observant as her hunting partners and even more resilient than she looks. So, when one day a stranger comes down from the sky and starts lurking in their forest and stalking them, Naru is quick to realize that something is wrong.
When the invisible predator finally makes itself seen as he shreds apart a grizzly bear, Naru is at a loss and terrified. This monster, which is armed with futuristic technology and superhuman abilities, is unfamiliar to her. But that is not so for viewers who have watched the renowned Predator and its sequels before.
Prey establishes the origin story of Predator. The aliens we have seen so many times in the original and its sequel makes its first appearance on the planet in this spin-off, which is set in the 1700s.
The movie is a nod to the franchise and harks back to the original with a number of small and big references throughout. From the trope of the predator becoming the prey, to making oneself undetectable to the monster, there are numerous instances in the film that will build a bridge to the original 1987 movie.
One of the biggest references is the pistol that Naru is presented with by a French trader. In the final scene, when Naru hands over the pistol to the tribal chief, we see the name Raphael Adolini engraved on it.
If you are a staunch fan of Predator, the pistol reference will be apparent immediately. For not-so-seasoned viewers, the pistol is the very same one that was given to Danny Glover's Lieutenant Mike Harrigan by City Hunter in Predator 2. This is a connecting link between the two films that Prey presents us with.
Does the movie deliver as a worthy sequel to the original?
One of the most compelling aspects of Prey is its representation of Indigenous Americans. With series like Reservation Dogs and Rutherford Falls dominating our screens today, representation has become a very essential character for sensitive portrayal in any feature. With an almost entirely Native cast, led by Amber Midthunder as Naru, Hulu's Predator spin-off is indeed commendable.
Moreover, the chemistry between Amber Midthunder and Dakota Beavers, the siblings Taabe and Naru, who share a hot and cold relationship, plays off beautifully. Screenwriter Patrick Aison must be applauded for making all the characters fit in so seamlessly and complimenting each other.
Although Hulu and Fox have joined hands to make the movie accessible from the comforts of our home, on a streaming platform, it feels like a waste to see the film on the small screen. With its well-choreographed action sequences and grand visuals, not to mention the terrifying predator, which would look even more menacing on the big screen, Prey deserves to be watched in theaters.
Despite claiming to be a prequel, the movie falls short in presenting to us any origin story of the predator itself. We are only presented with an alien creature who plants itself on Comanche land and stalks its prey, looking for a perfect kill. At the end of the movie, viewers are left wondering what exactly the origin of the predator is and whether more of its kind will make itself known if Hulu carries forward the movie.
Overall, Prey deserves credit for being one of the best Predator spin-offs till date. Complete with action and thrill, the Hulu movie is a must-watch, especially for all Predator fans.