Thursday, November 30, 2023
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Prey Review

For minds not fatigued by consistent train travel and loud noises in dingy venues, a link between Predator and Prey may come a bit quicker. But after permanent damage issued out by half of the Chuckle Brothers at an impromptu live set in a now-closed club, some are a bit slower on the uptake. As is Prey, a prequel style fashioning some conceivable hole in the prequel or at least film set before the Arnold Schwarzenegger action classic which reflected post-Vietnam war struggles for the American culture aptly rattled by a war they and the French never got to grips with. Prey is in safe hands with Dan Trachtenberg, implementing his Philadelphia-born, 10 Cloverfield Lane wit and wisdom on a tribe of Comanche warriors fending off a predator. 

Those warriors, whose lives are spun and spurned on through a tightly wound hour and a half, are at least interesting. Although, having said that, the bar is low enough after The Predator and coupling that coast through of ease with how dull and cannon-fodder-like action features are now, Prey cannot fail. It will not fail. Trachtenberg instils some great shots in those early moments which bring to life a tribe of warriors who, like those in Predator, are ill-equipped to take on a futuristic space mutant entity. Most people are ill-equipped to take on a futuristic space mutant entity, but with the power of friendship, a few sacrifices and a credible aversion to explosions, Prey can showcase its balance of early tranquillity and late-stage madness quite openly and effectively. It takes just ten minutes for the Predator to appear, presumably because waiting any longer would be a tiresome experience.  

Averting your eyes away from CGI pockmarked by green screens and bits and pieces that look no better than they did in the mid-1980s, it is at least beneficial to see Predator in what can technically be argued as a new environment. Modern technology or whatever was knocking around at the time made Predator an even playing field on paper. Prey must manage its underdog story with effectiveness and expectation for inevitable slaughter. That it does, and it does so nicely and with a responsible outlook, with plenty of drone shots and greenery to keep audiences ticking over toward that first gory breakout. Stylish in parts and never forgetting the natural environment that surrounds a well-cast Amber Midthunder, the laws of the Great Plains collide with Predator and make for well-maintained set pieces. 

Gory glory springs out from time to time, the scalped bulls in a field of plenty is a disgusting and well-placed scene that showcases the ravaging of an environment and the ruthlessness of an elusive alien. It is not the nicest scene to see while scoffing down IKEA meatballs, but these are the tricks of the trade, and they wait for no man. Nor does Trachtenberg and company, who power through with an occasionally beautiful feature. Prey has moments of sincerity, of tenderness, and while it falls to the sword of unconvincing invisibility cloaks, it maintains bloodied and colourful experiences, delivering satisfying action and tremendous panic in all the right places. Prey may be a tad too late to make a splash for a flailing character staple but the eerie designs, and the chilling, arachnid-like features of this rendition of an 80s icon, transition well into the next stage of its proven records. 

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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