Prey Director Reveals Challenges Of Bringing Authentic Native Representation To The Predator Movie

Amber Midthunder in Prey
(Image credit: Hulu)

The horror genre was built on long-running franchises. And with the genre continuing to thrive, some of the best horror movies have returned to meters via new sequels. Sci-fi property Predator was no exception, and last year’s movie Prey is considered one of the best Predator movies of all time. On top of being a thrilling ride, the movie was also praised for featuring Comanche characters. And Prey’s director revealed some challenges that came with bringing authentic Native representation to the movie.

Prey was directed by Dan Trachtenberg, and featured a cast of Native performers including lead actress Amber Midthuner. The movie also broke new ground by being set in 1719, with protagonist Naru standing in stark juxtaposition to the high-tech Predator. In a time where the importance of onscreen representation has never been more obvious, Prey stood out by featuring Native talent both behind and in front of the camera. When speaking with The Wrap about the care taken with telling a story infused with Comanche culture, Trachtenberg shared:

Aside from doing our own research, right from the jump, a woman named Juanita Pahdopony, who unfortunately passed away before we went into production of the movie, was with us as we were writing the first draft of the script. Her nephew, Dustin Tahmahkera, was also helping us. They gave us several books to read.

Research is a crucial part of the filmmaking process for directors, writers, actors, and beyond. This is especially true for period pieces, as well as ones that focus on underrepresented groups. And it seems like that paid off for Prey, which was acclaimed when it became available with a Hulu subscription

Because Prey was set back in 1719, doing research and making the horror flick accurate was especially challenging. This is especially true considering that they were hoping for more information about what it was like for indigenous people during that point. Later in that same interview, Trachtenberg offered:

A lot of the documentation, there’s the tiniest chapter that’s pre-1800s and then you get into more written records, but our movie is set prior to that and a lot of that information is not written from the Comanche perspective. So I realized very early on that there’s no amount of research that’s going to form this and it was essential to have their hope and their instincts early on.

Indigenous tribes each have very different cultures, language, and customs. So it was important for Prey to be specifically focused on the Comanche in order to be accurate and respectful to the members of the community. What’s more, the movie is the first to have a full Comanche language dub. There were also some members of the team who were Comanche, as Dan Trachtenberg revealed:

Then getting our producer Jhane Myers, who is Comanche herself, really take us through the entire process, the forging of the movie and finishing the film, the whole way. Having those instincts, not only because there’s not a lot of written record, but with her own historical research that she’s done and all of her close relationships as a culture bearer of the tribe and with other members. Even just her inherent feelings about genre moments so that can all feel like the fabric of the film.

This specificity really paid off, as Prey is already considered one of the best Predator movies. Fans are hoping for a Prey sequel, hopefully with Amber Midthunder’s return as Naru. And considering just how successful it was, that concept doesn’t seem out of the question.

Indeed, Prey was recently nominated for six Emmy Awards. What’s more, the streaming movie is getting a rare physical release. One has to assume that Hulu would want to pursue a sequel, but only time will tell.

Prey is streaming now on Hulu. Be sure to check out the 2023 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. 

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.