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Dan Trachtenberg And Jhane Myers On Prey's Authenticity, Inspirations, And Easter Eggs - Exclusive Interview

The "Predator" franchise is one of the most iconic action-horror franchises in film history, creating a terrifying yet badass alien species with a host of intimidating ways to hunt a human. While the 1987 original "Predator" (starring Arnold Schwarzeneggar around the peak of his action career glory) is one of our most pivotal sci-fi horror films, Dan Trachtenberg's "Prey" takes the franchise in entirely new directions by sending it into the past. 

The film stars Amber Midthunder as Naru, a young Comanche woman with dreams of becoming a respected hunter in her tribe. She gets more than she bargained for when she spots the fiery tail of a Yautja ship in the clouds. Naru finds herself faced with the ultimate challenge, hunting one of the galaxy's greatest hunters.

The shift to the past proves an inspiring pivot for the formerly sequential series, opening up a vast array of possibilities for the franchise's future. Most importantly, it's a strong outing with great central performances and some inspired action set pieces. We had a chance to sit down with director Dan Trachtenberg ("10 Cloverfield Lane") and producer Jhane Myers to chat everything "Prey." In an exclusive thorough conversation, we discussed the steps taken to cement the film's accuracy, the original plan for the its stealth rollout, the Easter Eggs that permeate the new film, and more. 

Prey sets the bar for authenticity high

[To Dan Trachtenberg] Your long-simmering involvement with this film was revealed a while ago on Deadline back in 2020, but you mentioned online that you had a different plan for folks discovering the film and your involvement in it... How did this come to be, and what was your initial plan?

Dan Trachtenberg: The initial hope was that, because I first pitched this movie when they were in pre-production or production on the previous "Predator" film, the 2018 "The Predator" ... I thought it would've been awesome to have a trailer come out for this movie with no title attached that was set-up [with] Naru setting off to prove herself, [she] goes into the woods and sees a fire in the sky, and so we immediately go, "Oh, this is set in this earlier time in the 1700s, and it's about a Comanche," but there's some sort of science fiction element.

That's all we would get, which already is a captivating premise and worthy of having a trailer, and then, the pitch was when the 2018 movie comes out, we'd attach with it our full trailer that would have that same setup. Then, it would go further into the bear sequence, and see that bear lifted up into the air and reveal the Predator and people go, "Oh my gosh, that thing we were already talking about, that's a Predator movie." 

That'd be the announcement of the title. [It] been super rad, but alas, [it] didn't come to be. I'm still pretty stoked with how we've been able to get this movie out there, and that we would be able to make the movie at all, so I'm pretty thrilled.

[To Jhane Myers] This is the first film to have a full dub in the Comanche language. I'm really excited about that. Please tell me a little bit about that, and what other research and prep went into the film's accuracy.

Jhane Myers: I'm a citizen of the Comanche Nation, being an enrolled Comanche, but I'm also Blackfeet. Having authenticity in this film 100% of the way through is really important, because normally, as a producer, I get hired to do different projects and sometimes they're 20%, 25%, but when I read this, this has 100% [...] the language component is really important to me because this is the first time that there's ever been a film completely in the Comanche language, let alone a film that comes out that is in a Native language. That's never happened in the film industry, so this film sets the bar quite high for representation [and] authenticity throughout.

Sports films shaped the plot of Prey

This is the first non-"AVP" film to spend time in the past, which is a gold mine for the franchise's potential. What inspired that choice?

TrachtenbergA) That it didn't exist yet was a big part of it. B) I really love the idea of pairing period with science fiction. It's something we don't get often enough. I love the idea of seeing visual effects in another setting, because I knew I wanted to make a survival tale, a very man-against-the-elements movie, and that was told primarily through action but [I] didn't want it to just be that lone visceral experience. 

[I] wanted it to be emotional as well, so I thought to infuse this with the engine of a sports movie. Make it an underdog story. In thinking about that, I was like, "Wouldn't it be great if the making of the movie replicated the story that the main character was going through?" What if we took a people that are so often relegated to playing the villain or the sidekick in a movie, never the lead, never the hero? All of that led me to this setting and to the Comanche.

When Naru uses that herb to help hide her body temperature, it immediately reminded me of when Dutch concealed his heat signature with mud in the original. Let's talk about that choice, and were there other callbacks to prior franchise films?

TrachtenbergI was excited to have it function similar to the first movie, and that a human uses ingenuity to figure out how to deal with this threat, but I did not want it to be the same thing. That would be a little boring, as the audience might be waiting for that moment to happen as soon as we saw mud. 

I also [thought] to allow it to be more of a thematic moment for Naru's mother to be insistent that she deal with medicine in the beginning of the movie and Naru [was] very quick to reject that [...] but then, for to her to embrace her mother's teachings in the end, so that she's embracing all sides of herself to vanquish the threat, could be a much more moving and thematically weighted approach to dealing with the mechanic inside a Predator movie.

There are so many Easter Eggs — some big, some small. The way the character shushes another character is certainly a reference. There's lines like "if it bleeds, we can kill it." The way someone is cut is a very specific reference. I'm certain there must be others as well. There's a weapon in this movie that's a pretty major reference ... so hopefully, they will all be uncovered by the internet when the movie comes out.

"Prey" premieres exclusively on Hulu August 5th.