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Prey Trailer Breakdown: Director Dan Trachtenberg Talks Defying Expectations, Generating Suspense & Targeting New Characters | Movies

Just this week we saw the latest trailer for the new Predator prequel, Preyrealized by 10 Cloverfield Laneis Dan Trachtenberg. In a real departure from the usual sequels, it travels back in time 300 years to follow Naru (Amber Midthunder), a fierce and highly skilled Comanche warrior. She was raised in the shadow of some of the most legendary hunters to roam the Great Plains, so when danger threatens her camp, she sets out to protect her people. The prey she tracks down, and ultimately confronts, turns out to be a highly evolved alien with a technically advanced arsenal, resulting in a vicious and terrifying confrontation between the two adversaries…

Bringing a predator to the screen, of course, has been a difficult task in the decades since the original, with the various sequels and spin-offs garnering mixed reactions. Trachtenberg gets there with a deep and abiding love for John McTiernan’s original (and fond memories of some of the other films), and an approach that feels fresh and new. We couldn’t resist chatting with the director about why he chose to make it a prequel, how he tackled making the Predator feel similar but different, and what Midthunder brings. in the lead role…

Trachtenberg remembers exactly how he met the Predator story – and like many of us, it was at a much younger age than his 18-year-old rating would suggest…

“Predator came out when I was in third grade. I was not allowed to see it, and rightly so! But I was in the van on my way to a karate tournament with a group of sixth graders. And they described the entire movie to me, including a beat where Native American scout Billy (Sonny Landham) dug into his own chest and fought the predator over a waterfall. And then I saw the movie, and that scene isn’t really there! But it has always captured my imagination. I always wanted to see this movie, you know. And that’s also part of the genesis of that.”


Focusing on Native American hunters as the ideal counterpoint to the alien threat was something Trachtenberg had in mind from the start.

“It was my first presentation at Fox [before it was purchased by Disney], the idea that it would be cool to make a movie that focuses on a Native American story, to make a western that doesn’t have cowboys,” Trachtenberg says. “It’s a movie that doesn’t really exist. not. It’s not shocking. And I just wanted to make a movie that would be told mostly visually and through action.”

This posed a challenge to the filmmaker. “How do you engage in a very economical way while telling a moving story? I’m not an athlete by any means, I’m not into sports, but I love sports movies, mainly because they look like action movies that you don’t need laser guns. But they still feel warm and hopeful, you know. And so, I thought, ‘if I could have the engine of a sports movie, telling a real underdog story in this action movie, it might sound really gripping and moving. An integral part of that underdog story was, “What if we were talking about someone, and a people who, in the media, is also the underdog? Who are the people who have never been enlightened about them?”


Amber Midthunder, who has been seen on shows such as Legion and movies including The ice road and Against all odds, has a chance to shine here, playing the central character. Trachtenberg quickly explains why he chose her.

“Mostly because she’s awesome!” he’s laughing. “She read for the role in a hotel room, on Zoom or FaceTime and she really delivered. She blew me away, immediately, despite the odd circumstances of her audition tape. She’s incredibly thoughtful and relatable. ”

It is this relativity that finally sold the filmmaker. “One of the things I was thrilled to have was a period piece that didn’t put a wall between the viewer and the characters. And not stuffy in a way that a period piece can sometimes have. .Because it’s from another era, you forget that people are still people and still feel the same feelings we feel today, even a long time ago.And Amber immediately has that laser in our soul from “oh man, she feels what I feel” my parents were both stuntmen in the past and I was like, “If they can do it, she can do it too”.


The trailer offers glimpses of other fighters battling the Predator, and they’re not all Native American, hinting at a larger theme of colonialism and warfare that runs through the film. It’s something Trachtenberg doesn’t want to get into too much yet, but does offer to play a role.

“I don’t want to talk too much about it. I want to make sure I let the movie speak for itself,” he warns. “But yes, they are trappers in French. Alright. And they play an important role in the film.”


The trailer for Preydoes not evoke the same feeling as more recent entries in the Predator frankness – which is not a bad thing! – but rather evokes something closer to The ghost or a film by Terrence Malick. And that’s by design.

“Terrence Malick was probably the most quoted,” says Trachtenberg. ” And not only The new Worldbut days of paradiseand The thin red line too. We referenced footage from those films and cinematographies and wanted it to feel authentic. It’s really part of the soul of this film. And macbeththe Michael Fassbender macbeth had a great visual influence on the film.


Towards the end of the trailer, there’s a moment where Naru hides in the mud, which feels like a clear callback to McTiernan’s movie and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s mud-covered Dutchman who uses it to hide his body heat from the Predator’s heat vision. So, can we expect a lot of nods to the original film?

“There have been so many moments where we almost got seduced into putting more and more Easter eggs!” admits Trachtenberg. “‘Go to the chopper!’ isn’t in this movie despite so many people wondering, ‘what if there was a horse named Chopper?’ We didn’t go all the way, although there were tons of intentional and unintentional nods to the first movie.”

Some of them, according to the director, were totally oblivious, born out of his pure love of suspense and Predator. “What’s funny is in the trailer, there’s a sequence in the tall grass. And I remember stopping by to see one of our actors, Harlan [Blayne Kytwayhat], who plays Itsee in the film. He is the one who drags Amber into the grass. And he has to tell her to shut up. And I said, ‘I think it’s meant to sound like you’re not freaking out. There was a line or something, but I said, come on, “Ssh.” Just raise your finger. I looked at the reshoot, turned the cinematographer around and said, “That looks familiar, I think.” And he says, ‘yeah, Predator.’ And I was like, Oh, yeah… ‘Obviously, this movie is in my brain.


Setting the film hundreds of years in the past means that the Predator creature we see is unlike any we’ve seen before, but still has some of the wonderful toys we’ve come to expect from these aliens (canonically known as the name of Yautja). But above all, the Predator’s mainstay of destruction, its go-to killing tool, was deliberately set aside for Trachtenberg’s story.

“The main thing I wanted to remove was the Plasma Launcher,” he explains. “Just because it felt like such an instant win button. I wanted to make sure the fight could be as exciting as possible without robbing him of his perks. He doesn’t have all the tools he has in the most recent movies. But he’s got some awesome new gadgets for people to see.”


Although he is a fan of other Predator movies, Trachtenberg wanted to bring Prey back to a feeling that hasn’t really been felt since Dutch and his team first put boots on the ground in the Val Verde jungle in 1987: fear.

“There’s a lot of suspense in the film,” Trachtenberg says. “I think it’s something that hasn’t really been part of the franchise. Certainly when you think about [these films] you think a lot more about the action. And the gore, the horror of it. As a child, it was really a horror movie for me. So I think the movie is trying to be a lot scarier than it’s ever been and a lot more suspenseful, of course.”


If we have to address the alien in the room though, it’s because, despite all the cult following in the franchise, the quality of later Predator films has always been quite varied. What began as an incredibly tense monster movie that almost oozed terror from every pore saw diminishing returns in follow-ups ranging from deemed average to ridiculous. For Trachtenberg and writer Patrick Aison, Prey has become an exercise in assimilating all the notions on the smallest Predator sequels that have plagued this franchise ensuring they don’t fall into the same trap.

“I think all the movies after the first one have all had really cool bits. I don’t know if there’s ever been one that overall was just a fabulous movie, I think ‘they all had varying degrees of great parts So it was really important to me that not only did this movie have some great parts, but it also really needed to have a great story and something that was more universal same as in the original Predator,” he says.

“I wanted to go back to the basic primitive instincts of this original Predator movie,” he continues. “I think so many great swings have been taken since that one. And that was part of it. ‘Okay, let’s start small. But to a large extent. And so hopefully for die-hard fans of the franchise and all of its incarnations, they feel like this movie speaks only to them. And for people who have never seen a Predator movie before, they’re like, ‘Oh, is this a movie? Is it a real movie? I thought it was just a monster movie!’ It’s both!”

Prey will land on Disney+ in the UK on August 5 and via Hulu in the US on the same day.

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