'Prey's Director & Producer on How the Predator is Different Than What Audiences Have Seen Before

 


From director Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) and writer Patrick Aison, the action/horror thriller Prey is the fifth installment in the Predator franchise and a prequel that’s set 300 years ago, in the world of the Comanche Nation. This time around, it follows a fierce and skilled female Comanche warrior named Naru (Amber Midthunder), who sets out to protect her tribe with no idea that she’s walking into a terrifying battle with a highly-evolved alien that’s landed on Earth.


With the trailer for the film that’s available to stream at Hulu on August 5th providing glimpses of what’s in store for audiences, Collider got the opportunity to chat with Trachtenberg and producer Jhane Myers, who’s a Comanche and Blackfeet American Indian. During the brief interview, they talked about how this story evolved, the unique opportunity to be able to watch the film dubbed in Comanche, that this is a sweeping and epic movie that just happens to be getting a streaming release, ramping up the scare factor, how the time period affects things, and what they intentionally wanted to change with the look of the Predator.


Collider: This is the first feature film script that the film’s writer, Patrick Aison, has had produced. What made him the right person to tell this story with?


DAN TRACHTENBERG: I tracked down Patrick. I originally pitched the story to Fox and they loved the initial take, and then Patrick was a writer that I’d wanted to work with, forever. He’s written several things that have just not been produced. One is a historical piece about Nazi hunters in the seventies, and the other is this awesome Groundhog Day on a space station, science fiction thing that cleverly uses technology and is not very verbal. And so, I thought he would be a great fit, as I was trying to figure out this movie. We crafted the story together, and then continued to send it up the chain to Fox, and they let us write it. Very early on, after just the first couple drafts to make sure we were even on the right course, we linked up with a woman named Juanita Pahdopony, who’s unfortunately since passed away, but she was Comanche and really helped us figure out the movie. And then, when we needed a producer, we tracked down Jhane [Myers]. When I first spoke with Jhane, I realized she had a lot in common with Naru, the lead character of this movie, and we would be lucky to have her, as a person, aside from even being a talented producer, herself. I couldn’t believe she existed. It was just awesome.


JHANE MYERS: I was really excited. Everything had shut down with the pandemic, and then things started slowly happening again. I had interviewed for all these other producing projects, and then I heard about this one and heard that I could interview with Dan. I completely forgot about everything else. I was like, “I want this one. I want The Predator. I like the whole premise of the Comanche.” I grew up a little Comanche tomboy, and I probably still am. I really liked it. I liked the way that the film is not only wrapped within my culture, but it’s wrapped in unpredictability. I hate predictable films, and there are so many things that this film will take you through that are so unpredictable. One of the things is language. We actually have a huge language component, and not just the words that you’re gonna hear on screen, but when you watch it on Hulu, you’ll have the chance to click and watch the whole movie dubbed in Comanche, which is amazing. This has never happened for my tribe before. This has never happened on a brand-new film that’s coming out. I hope that this film sets the paradigm and changes things for our language and our culture.


Did making this movie for Hulu and not having a huge budget provide you with more creative freedom to tell your story?


TRACHTENBERG: It started out at 20th, and then, after the merger, Hulu became the release platform. It was never a situation of, because it’s streaming, it has a streaming movie budget. It has a very economical budget. Certainly not as big as the last one, but I think we had all the money we needed to make the movie as grand as it needed to be. This is an epic movie. What was so exciting about the original Predator was that it was a genre mash-up of action and horror. This movie, I think, is scarier than they have been for a while, but in my mind, it’s a mash-up of adventure and suspense. It’s a grand, sweeping, epic movie, that is being gifted to people to watch on their televisions. Hopefully, there likely will be some potential theatrical experiences for some people to get to.


This movie takes place 300 years ago, so how is the Predator the same, and how is the Predator different from what we’ve seen before?


TRACHTENBERG: Yes. Great question. It was very tricky to find a way to have the Predator feel, at once, 300 years earlier in iteration and in what it has to wield, but also feel still feel far more advanced than what our characters are used to and have ever dealt with before. That way, it really can feel like this David and Goliath grudge match unfolding. That was challenging. Some things in the trailer are teased, and I’m excited for people to watch some familiar gadgets and some familiar weapons in the arsenal, but also a lot of new things that I think are super cool and that I hope people will enjoy.


Even the look of the Predator seems different.


TRACHTENBERG: For the look of the creature, I really wanted to get out of the bodybuilder/wrestler thing. The first thing to go was the mesh netting that he, or it, has worn previously. I wanted to have this thing feel much more creature-like and way more visceral.


I’m excited to see more of the film, especially with a badass woman at the center of it.


TRACHTENBERG: I’m excited for you to see it.


Prey will be available to stream on Hulu on August 5th.         

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