Prey Betrayed Its Own Predator Rules In 1 Of Its Most Important Scenes

ytsfreeSeptember 7, 2022

Despite one of the tightest, most logically consistent scripts in the franchise, Prey breaks one important Predator rule in one of its most important scenes. Prey might be the best Predator movie since the original. Like the 1987 sci-fi/horror/action classic, Dan Trachtenberg’s straight-to-Hulu soft reboot succeeds by sticking to the basics: a lean story in a natural setting, dilemmas requiring creative problem-solving, classic creature effects on a new Predator variant, thoughtful setups and payoffs, and adherence to internal logic. In the last category, though, the movie makes one vital misstep, and it happens to come during one of the movie’s most pivotal moments.

SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY

Set in the early 1700s, Prey pits the Predator variant against a teenage Comanche named Naru (Amber Midthunder), the other members of her village, a series of animals, and a band of French Canadian fur trappers in the Northern Great Plains of North America. Naru wants to prove she can hunt, but her patriarchal tribe wants her to stay home to cook and clean. As the stakes ramp up, though, Naru’s motivations turn more existential, and the encroaching dangers – from the Predator, the trappers, and the wild – begin to reveal her as a fully fleshed character with both strengths and weaknesses. The fur trappers in the Prey movie are the first dangers to fully close in on her – capturing Naru and her brother, Taabe (Dakota Beavers) to use them to bait the Predator. After their plan fails, and the alien massacres their party (and Taabe), Naru turns the tables on the surviving trapper by knocking him out and using him as bait. It’s a pivotal moment designed for maximum catharsis, but an instance of lapsed logic almost ruins the effect.


Related: Predator Movie Timeline: What Year Prey Is Set In

In the climactic scene between Naru and the lead fur trapper, Prey breaks one of its own established Predator rules by making Naru’s heat-masked body invisible rather than just less visible. Prey’s orange flower is established earlier in the movie to slow bleeding by lowering body temperature, which can camouflage the user from the Predator’s heat-based vision system. It can also fool it into thinking the user is dead, as it did for one wounded trapper who, after Naru administered it for his bleeding, played dead by lying still and unknowingly had the low body temperature to match. In the Predator’s POV shots, his body is blue instead of the usual red-orange, but it’s nonetheless visible. Yet in Predator POVs, Naru’s heat-masked body is completely invisible despite standing (and moving) right in front of the Predator.


Why the Predator Killed the Fur Trapper

After the Predator finds the lead trapper, whom Naru has set as bait by amputating his leg and giving him an unloaded gun, the Predator kills him without hesitation, which initially seems like another potential issue. As established by the rules of Predator battles and by Naru’s own words earlier in the film, “It doesn’t want bait. It doesn’t hunt like that.” On closer viewing, however, this ostensible error is actually a cleverly designed fake-out. The trapper, whose legs are obscured by a log and whose unloaded gun isn’t obviously unloaded, doesn’t look like bait; he looks like he’s laying down to take aim at the Predator.


The subversion is just one of the Prey movie’s many clever plot devices, which include callbacks to earlier Predator movies, bait-and-switches, and strong setups and payoffs. In light of all this thoughtfulness, its fumbling of the heat-masking concept is all the more glaring, but it’s also all the more forgivable. While it may later be explained by a potential Prey 2 or otherwise down the franchise line, the fact this seemingly outright Predator rule break leads to one of the best sequences in the entire movie ultimately makes up for it.

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