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The sumptuous cinematography of Prey can't quite distract from its shortcomings

In Prey, Naru lives a restless life, and longs to be out in the wild hunting with her brother. When she stumbles upon unusual footprints, she realises there’s something familiar lurking in the darkness that is a different kind of beast altogether...

By Matthew Jackson, Third Year, Biology

Set in the tranquil Northern Great plains of 18th century America, Naru (Amber Midthunder) of the Comanche tribe lives a restless life. Forced to stay at home learning from the other women in the camp, she longs to be out in the wild hunting with her brother. When stalking in the woods one night, she stumbles upon unusual footprints and sees flashing lights in the distance, leading her to believe something is lurking in the darkness that is a different kind of beast altogether.

Courtesy of IMDB

The film begins with stunning drone shots of the American Midwest, with towering mountains that give way to mystic valleys; characters wind their way through moss-leaden forests, into unending plains of meadow grass, before crossing a gentle stream that carves through the landscape. The scenic beauty of Prey (2022) is something that stands out, giving a sense of grandeur as well as the perfect stage for the plot to unfold.

This film comes as the latest instalment of a long line of films with one prevailing similarity: the antagonist. This kind of gruesome and gory alien first appeared in the film Predator (1987); since then, this mysterious species has sliced and diced its way through five movies across the last 35 years.

Prey is chronologically the earliest film, being set over 200 years before the next intervention between humans and these hulking extra-terrestrials, but, luckily, understanding the plot doesn’t require watching all previous films.

Image courtesy of IMDB

One thing that fans of the preceding films will know is that in a Predator movie, there will inevitably be violence, gore and intense action, and this film isn’t any different. Although slow to build up tension, the narrative speeds up towards the end when some well-choreographed fight sequences take place.

Those who are privy to high-octane violence will find nothing out-of-place to remark upon concerning some of the blood-soaked scenes, but part of me thinks that this tactless violence is a way to make a spectacle of a film that simply hasn’t got much else to offer.  

Image courtesy of IMDB

The very thing that makes this alien such a formidable and genuinely scary antagonist is that it is shrouded in mystery. However, in such a long-spanning history of this alien on the silver screen, many returning viewers may be disenfranchised by the repetition of tired tropes and cliches, as the mystery is quickly dismantled and the antagonist becomes too familiar.

Prior to viewing, I had only seen the original Predator film and found the parallels between that film and Prey to be very similar in plot.

Courtesy of IMDB

Prey was an interesting blend of the historical and science fiction genres, an amalgamation you don’t often see, with some of the most beautifully shot cinematography one could ask for.

Yet, if boiled down to its bare components, the plot is a little predictable and sacrifices a genuinely intriguing and surprising story for an action-packed showcase. However, if you're looking for an adrenaline-filled action movie, then this film is for you.

Featured Images: IMDB

Do you think the horror of Prey is lost by the predictability of the franchise?