The period sci-fi horror film “Prey” tells the story of a young Comanche woman and her efforts to save her people from an alien invader. Set in the 1700s, the film is a routine predator-and-prey story that seems pointless, unoriginal, and boring. Putting a spin on the setting doesn’t change the fact that this is an unexceptional and unexciting entry in the franchise.
Naru (Amber Midthunder) is a fierce and highly skilled warrior. She’s grown up in a family of hunters, roaming the Great Plains with men who never fail to underestimate her. Their attitudes eventually change when a highly evolved alien predator arrives on the planet. Naru must face off with the beast and his technically advanced arsenal, using her wits to outsmart him and keep her tribe alive.
There are exactly three good things that I can say about this movie. One, It’s refreshing to see a story with a female Native American lead character. It’s always welcome to see more stories about women. Two, Midthunder is terrific as Naru. She has a strong screen presence that in turn makes the character instantly likeable, and she easily has the chops to carry the entire movie. Midthunder radiates an attitude and flair that reminds me of Aubrey Plaza, and I’m excited to watch her in future projects. Lastly, the cinematography (by Jeff Cutter) is stunning, with gorgeous landscape shots that look a whole lot better than you’d expect. Too bad all of these positives are wasted on such a lackluster project.
The story is too basic, and the CGI animals are laughably mediocre. They’re so cartoonish that I was instantly taken out of the story. It’s ridiculous and not fun to watch the predator attacking animals that are sorely outmatched for an alien species. Where’s the sport in a super advanced creature battling a snake, rabbit, wolf (or humans, for that matter)? A predator would likely have no interest in prey that’s so primitive. No matter how smart Naru is, she’s going to have a tough time beating the technologically advanced predator with simple weaponry. It’s a battle that just doesn’t work without modern warfare, as it’s an unfair fight. The film’s setting ultimately proves to be its downfall.
The script is also lifeless throughout. The storyline is predictable. The tough woman angle is a good one, and Naru uses her wits to outsmart the invader. That’s great, but a majority of the film is spent with everyone telling her that she’s not a capable hunter. What’s fun and enjoyable about that?
When watching an action film like this, all I ask is to be entertained for a couple of hours. With its boring and overdone fight sequences, “Prey” even fails to pass this most basic test. I completely lost interest in the film just an hour into it (which made it even more of a chore to finish) because of something that doesn’t happen often: I found it just too difficult to suspend disbelief.