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"Prey": How to Correctly Bring Indigenous Characters Into an Existing Franchise

Part-time Indigenous media critic, but full-time Indigenous professional.

Amber Midthunder (Naru) in Prey

Amber Midthunder (Naru) in Prey

Authenticity at Core of Production

“Set in the Comanche Nation 300 years ago, ‘Prey’ is the story of a young woman, Naru, a fierce and highly skilled warrior. She has been raised in the shadow of some of the most legendary hunters who roam the Great Plains, so when danger threatens her camp, she sets out to protect her people. The prey she stalks, and ultimately confronts, turns out to be a highly evolved alien predator with a technically advanced arsenal, resulting in a vicious and terrifying showdown between the two adversaries.” (Rotten Tomatoes)

Prey is not only a great movie featuring Indigenous people, but just a great movie overall. While Prey showcases the titular character, Predator, you can go into this without having seen any of the previous entries in the franchise and follow the story with ease.

The movie features characters that you actually root for throughout, with Amber Midthunder’s lead role as Naru being the absolute focus of the whole movie. I had the privilege to watch the film in Comanche with English subtitles and I found it immersed me more into the setting of the movie, so I highly recommend watching it in Comanche on Hulu!

Comanche Nation represented in Prey (2022)

Comanche Nation represented in Prey (2022)

How to Handle Indigenous Characters

What really attracted me to watching this movie is the movie team’s determination to keep everything authentic and accurate to what the Comanche people were back in the 1700s. During the premiere in Oklahoma City, I did not hear any complaints from the Comanche people in the audience about the film’s portrayal of their people (FYI, I myself grew up learning about my Navajo culture, so I won’t be an ideal source on any questions you may have with the movie’s portrayal of the Comanche people).

I really appreciated the cast and crew’s dedication to keeping everything authentic to the Comanche from that era. The premiere was attended by the two leading stars, Amber Midthunder and newcomer Dakota Beavers (Taabe), along with producer, Jhane Myers.

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Language from Naru's Perspective

Following the movie was a Q&A with these three and from what they told us, you can tell they made sure they got everything right, down to the smallest props you would see sprinkled in the Comanche camp where Naru and Taabe lived. Famously, this movie was dubbed in Comanche but Jhane Myers expressed her desire for it to be filmed completely in the Comanche language, but they compromised to make a dub instead.

During the Q&A I got the opportunity to ask the following question:

Question: “In the film you have English subtitles for when any character speaks Comanche, but when the French characters spoke their subtitles were in French. What was the reasoning for that?”

Amber Midthunder: “We wanted the film to be in the perspective of the main character (Naru) so whatever she can understand we printed in English on the bottom. So if she can speak French it would have been in English.”

This small detail continues to immerse the audience in Naru’s world and bring us closer to her character throughout the movie.

Balance of Gore and Action

My main concern going into this movie was that it would be another slasher movie, but it balances the gore and action well so that it’s not so over the top to cause those with light stomachs to feel queasy. We see how big of a threat the Predator is after each of its kills and its signature clicking noise throughout the film.

This added greater suspense while our protagonists try to stay ahead of the Predator’s next moves. We also get to invest a lot of time with Naru as the film puts the primary focus on her. This allows the suspense to be taken up a notch and the audience investing more in the characters shown on screen. There is even a dog in the movie!

I look forward to watching this film again and I hope that it will inspire more filmmakers to take a chance on Indigenous characters. The great amount of accuracy portrayed by Jhane Myers was done with an immense amount of care. If you are on the fence about seeing this movie I hope this pushes you to watch it, especially with the Comanche dub.

Predator or Prey?

Predator or Prey?

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