Over four decades, the Predator franchise has given us stone-cold classics (1987’s Predator), grossly underrated sequels (Predator 2) and the odd turkey (The Predator). In fact, if you throw in 2010’s watchable but hardly memorable Predators, those 35 years of killer alien has covered the whole critical spectrum. At times, the franchise bled a bit, but they couldn’t kill it.
The good news is that the fifth and newest addition to the canon, Prey, has anticipation levels soaring. It’s the first Predator flick to head straight to streaming, but judging by what we’ve seen so far, it’s going to make for a killer night in. The trailer showcases some elegant visuals and an innovative 18th-century setting – not to mention a new-look and meaner-than-ever antagonist.
It’s a whole new kind of Predator movie, so we asked director Dan Trachtenberg to talk us through it. Here’s what you need to know.
When is Prey streaming?
Prey will be on Hulu in the US and Disney+ elsewhere around the world. It’s streaming from August 5.
What is Prey about?
In short? It’s the first historical Predator movie. Set 300 years ago on America’s Great Plains, it has a group of Comanche Nation warriors following in the footsteps of Dutch, Dillon and co. in facing down a highly-advanced alien hunter. One skilful but untested Comanche hunter, Naru, embarks on a lethal game of cat-and-mouse with the Predator.
Who is directing Prey?
Prey is directed by 10 Cloverfield Lane’s Dan Trachtenberg and if that Cloverfield spin-off is anything to go by, it will offer one or two surprises. Treadstone screenwriter Patrick Aison wrote the script.
Is there a trailer for Prey?
There is – and it’s a good’un. You can watch it below.
Who is starring in Prey?
Playing Naru (pronounced ‘Nardu’) is The Ice Road’s Amber Midthunder. ‘There's not a lot of dialogue in the movie – it's largely told through action,’ says the director, ‘and all of her emotionality really comes through.’
Midthunder went through a gruelling pre-movie training regimen with her First Nations co-stars. ‘it was a month or two of physical training, not just to learn the choreography of the fight sequences but learning to work as a unit with the other Comanche hunters,’ says Trachtenberg, who calls the Comanche warriors ‘the SEAL Team Six of their time’.
Also starring as Naru’s fellow Comanches are First Nation actors Cody Big Tobacco, Dakota Beavers, Stormee Kipp, Michelle Thrush, Julian Black Antelope Skye Pelletier, Harlan Kytwayhat and Tymon Carte.
And following in the footsteps of Kevin Peter Hall, who suited up to play the Predator in the 1987 movie, is ex-pro basketball player Dane DiLiegro.
What’s new about this Predator movie?
Where to begin? Most notably, alongside its groundbreaking casting, the film’s First Nation setting will be honoured in a Comanche language dub that’ll be available on Disney+. It’s the first time a Hollywood movie has been released in Comanche (of course, it’s available to watch in English too).
‘Dubbing has come a long way,’ jokes Trachtenberg. ‘It won't feel like an old Shaw Brothers kung fu movie. I think it adds a whole new layer of authenticity.’
What’s new about the Predator itself?
Plenty, says Trachtenberg. ‘I wanted [the Predator] to be scarier than we've seen it before,’ he tells Time Out. ‘It's intelligent and it has advanced technology, and that makes it even more difficult to take on. But because the movie is set 300 years in the past, those things need to feel a little bit older than we've seen before, but also still far more advanced than what we think our earthlings would be able to handle.’
The remorseless hunter-killer from space also has a new look. ‘I wanted to make sure the head was more proportional to the body,’ says the director. ‘This predator is much slimmer and less armoured than it's ever been. It’s more ‘creature’. It's still hulking and ferocious.’
How will the Comanche warriors fight the Predator?
How the 18th century warriors can take down a hi-tech interstellar shit-kicker is the million dollar question. For Trachtenberg, who likens Prey to underdog stories like Rocky and 300, the answer comes in the final reel of Predator. ‘In the ending of the first movie, none of those big guns mattered,’ he notes. ‘Predator’s ending was saying: all of that other stuff didn't work and this other thing does. And the Comanche were the most badass warriors to walk this land.’
‘As exciting as the original movie is, I don't think the Arnold Schwarzenegger character represents someone who we can all see ourselves in. This is the other version of it: seeing more of yourself in it – how would I handle danger when it happens?
Naru also has a secret weapon: her trusty canine, Sarii. ‘Their relationship is sort of a riff on Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior,’ says the director. ‘Naru and her dog are at the heart of the movie.’
Is there a direct connection between Prey and Predator?
There is, of course, a First Nations link: mercenary Billy Sole, played by Sonny Landham, was part-Sioux. Trachtenberg won’t be drawn on whether there’s a direct connection with the character (‘We'll find out if there's any further link’, he teases), but says that Sole was a major inspiration for Prey. ‘My friends went to see Predator and told me about the scene in which Billy fights the Predator on a bridge over a waterfall. But when I saw the movie, that wasn’t in it, and I wanted to see that movie. Spiritually, Prey is connected to that moment.’
Where was Prey filmed?
Standing in for the movie’s Midwestern setting is Alberta in Canada. The tricky terrain and inhospitable weather will give the film The Revenant-like authenticity, but also made for The Revenant-like filming conditions. 'It was painful and intense,’ says Trachtenberg of the shoot. ‘It was exhausting, especially for me, a guy who spends most of his time playing video games and watching movies!'
Will there be another Predator movie after Prey?
Very possibly. 'There are a lot of exciting ideas for what could be next for the franchise,’ says Trachtenberg. ‘The things that most excite me are the boldest swings and I think there's scope to do other things that haven't been done before.' Predator in Bridgerton, anyone?
Prey is streaming on Disney+ where it’s available worldwide, and Hulu in the US, from August 5.