Directed by Dan Trachtenberg, “Prey” is the seventh film in the “Predator” franchise. Yes, I am counting the “Alien vs. Predator” films too because it has a Predator in them. The film is set in 1719 and follows Naru (Amber Midthunder), an aspiring hunter hailing from the Comanche tribe. But, her dream of becoming a warrior is impeded by patriarchal norms and her brother Taabe’s (Dakota Beavers) habit of taking credit for her work. So, she takes a drastic step and goes into the jungle with her dog Sarii (Coco) by her side to look for the mysterious animal that’s roaming around and taking out the most powerful creatures in the food chain. That animal is, of course, the Predator (Dane DiLiegro). Now, the ending of “Prey” isn’t very ambiguous. It largely relies on paying off everything it has set-up earlier in the film. Let’s talk about that and a couple of basic questions you may have. Starting with…
What Does The Predator Want? Why Doesn’t It Look Like All The Other Predators In The Franchise?
Anyone who has watched any of the “Predator” films knows that the Predator species doesn’t exactly have a very complex motivation. They land on a planet. They locate the animal that’s at the top of the food chain there and then proceed to hunt that animal, thereby proving that it has now taken the top spot. That’s the only thing that’s on their mind. So, as you can see in the film, it lands on Earth, all the way back in the 1700s. It comes across a snake eating a rat and skins it. Then it comes across a wolf going after a rabbit and pulls out its spine (with the head attached). After that, it encounters a bear (which puts up a good fight, to be honest) and bathes in its blood. Finally, when it sees humans, their spears, and their guns, it understands they are the apex predators and starts hunting them.
As for the Predator’s look, which is very different from the ones we’ve seen in the other movies, the answer is clearly evolution. Every iteration of the Predator has been pretty similar in terms of character design. They have differed in size, yes, but mostly they look the same. However, the one in “Prey” is sleeker. Its braids are longer. And its facial construction is thinner. It still has the fangs and everything. So, fans don’t have to worry about the design deviating too much from the original. In “The Predator,” we’ve seen that this species does experiment with its DNA to get better than the last animal it encountered. Given the time period the movie is set in, it’s very likely that they are still in the early phases of experimentation. Or, maybe that’s just how they look in that era, and over the years, they get buffer and broader and turn into the Predator we know and love to hate.
See More: ‘Prey’ Review – Dan Trachtenberg Delivers A Coming-Of-Age Action Movie Set In The ‘Predator’ Franchise
Who Is Responsible For Skinning The Buffaloes?
This is a very nice play on audience expectations by Trachtenberg and Aison. We know that the Predator skins its victims and hangs them. We have seen it do that in all the films preceding “Prey.” We see this Predator do the same to a snake. But when Naru comes across an entire field full of buffaloes that have been skinned alive, it feels off. Because, as mentioned before, the Predator goes after something that it considers a threat. And buffaloes are not that threatening. Later on, while trying to run away from the Predator, Naru is captured and knocked out by a group of Trappers. When she wakes up in their cage, she realizes that the Predator didn’t do the skinning. It was the Trappers. Now, that’s an unexpected parallel that the movie draws between humans and the Predator (but not the only one, as there’s a very intentional cut between the Predator and Naru tending to their respective wounds).
How Does Naru Find Out The Predator’s Weaknesses?
In the scene where Naru falls into a bog and barely makes it out with her whole body covered in mud, it seems like she’s going to encounter the Predator. And, like in the first movie, she’s going to realize that the mud cools down the body and prevents the Predator from seeking its victim out with its heat vision. But that turns out to be a set-up for something else entirely. Instead, we see Naru using a herb mixture on her patients that cools their blood down and prevents them from bleeding out. When she gives it to Raphael (Bennett Taylor), she notices that the Predator clearly walks by him until he makes a sound. So, that’s the Predator’s first weakness, and, actually, a good twist on what we’ve seen already from the franchise.
The Predator is synonymous with its three red dots. In the previous movies, we’ve seen it take aim with the laser pointers in its helmet and then shoot a blast of energy that absolutely decimates its victim. Here, though, we see that the laser pointers start off in a triangle formation and then move to individual spots separately so that when the Predator shoots its metal arrows (no energy blast involved), each of them hits each of the dots. While fighting it at the end of the second act, Taabe manages to knock the helmet off, thereby causing it to point the laser at a random tree. The Predator tries to shoot Taabe, but the arrows miss him and go towards the dots. Like a guided missile, if that makes more sense. That’s how Naru figures out the Predator’s second weakness.
‘Prey’ Ending Explained: Does Naru Successfully Beat The Predator? Is This Why The Predators Keep Coming Back To Earth?
Taabe sacrifices himself so that Naru can get away from the Predator. She goes to the bank of a river to wash off the blood on her and notices Big Beard (Mike Paterson) on the other side. Initially, she plans to shoot him dead. But, instead, she knocks him unconscious and props him up as bait to lure the Predator in. Once he’s awake and screaming because rats are eating away at his amputated leg, Naru consumes the herb mixture that cools her blood down and makes her invisible to the Predator. When it’s close enough to take a shot, Naru tries to blow its head off but only manages to get its helmet off. While it figures out what hit it, Naru takes off with the helmet and goes into the jungle.
What about the amputated leg, you ask? Well, Naru uses it to bait the Predator once again to enter a space that is filled to the brim with traps of her own making. Once it is in place, she engages it and starts to chip away at its limbs. Then, with some help from Sarii, she manages to drop it into a watery section of the fighting area. And we realize that she has, in fact, lured him to the bog that she got stuck in earlier in the movie and is trying to drown the Predator. But the Predator stands up, and it seems like her plan has failed. The Predator takes aim at Naru, and we see that Naru has already positioned the helmet in such a way that it’s facing the creature. As soon as the Predator fires, the helmet’s targeting system activates and it ends up killing itself.
Naru returns to her makeshift village and delivers the head to Chief Kehetu (Julian Black Antelope). She hands over the gun she acquired from Raphael. If it looks familiar, you are correct. It’s the same gun that one of the Predators hands over to Lt. Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) in “Predator 2.” How did it get to that Predator? Well, there is so much time between “Prey” and “Predator 2”. Maybe after learning about the Predator’s failure against Naru, they come back, take the gun and keep it as a memento. Or perhaps Naru gives it to one of them after a peaceful altercation. The possibilities are endless. The movie ends with Naru suggesting the tribe move to a more secure location because there’s danger nearby, thereby hinting at the colonization by White Trappers and also the threat of more Predators.
“Prey” is a 2022 Drama Action film directed by Dan Trachtenberg.