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Prey

Year: 2022
Studio: 20th Century Studios
Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Writer: Patrick Aison/Dan Trachtenberg
Cast: Amber Midthunder

It doesn't matter how lame a franchise is (like this one), how overdone a mythology is (like Batman) or how many dumb films have come out of a specific genre or film movement (like zombies), a good movie is a good movie is a good movie.

2018's The Predator seemed to be a slam dunk with one of the original voices from the predator universe (Shane Black) writing and directing, but it couldn't have been a more confused mess. If it was possible to buy stock in the Predator franchise that was when to do it, because it was a new low.

Who would have guessed a barely related new entry from the guy who made 10 Cloverfield Lane would be so slick, so stripped back, so no-nonsense and get the tone so right?

Prey is one of those films that reminds you it's okay to just be entertained when it's done well. It's a single enclosed story with a three act structure, just enough frights and blood to get your heart rate up, it doesn't overstay its welcome and it isn't bogged down with heavy themes or self important sequel potential.

It's the colonial era in America and even though even though star Amber Midthunder gives an eager and endearing performance as Naru she's a bit of a stereotype of the ambitious young female who harbours ambitions of being a great hunter like the boys but is kept in her place by the sexist structures of her people's culture (like she isn't going to save the day eventually).

A ferocious mountain lion has taken one of the tribal hunters, and after seeing what we know to be the Predator's ship arriving on Earth as it streaks through a cloud-laden sky, Naru becomes convinced it's a sign telling her to prove herself and fulfil her destiny as a hunter by being allowed to track and kill it.

But while Naru, her stern but protective brother and their friends are out stalking the beast, they see signs of something far worse like unusual tracks they've never seen before and an almost perfectly skinned rattlesnake.

They eventually come face to face with the mountain lion in a tree in the dead of night, but while Naru is having a Mexican standoff with it on a high branch, she hears a strange clicking sound nearby you'll be intimately familiar with, which distracts her. As the lion pounces she falls, hitting her head when she lands and passing out.

Awakening back at the village, Naru learns that her brother subsequently killed the lion and has been declared the lead hunter of the tribe, but Naru knows better – there's something even more dangerous out in the woods.

She takes one of the boys with her, determined to find and kill the creature and prove she's a good hunter. The mission puts them into the hands of French colonialists who've themselves faced the monster in the forest, and Naru and her friend suddenly have a battle on every side – with the foreign invaders and the demonic thing hunting them all.

It has performances that are well pitched for the genre, a straightforward and propulsive story that breezes along and contains nothing it doesn't need, and for a mid budgeted action adventure horror film it's near perfect.

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