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How Sports Films Shaped The Plot Of Prey According To Director Dan Trachtenberg - Exclusive

Watching director Dan Trachtenberg's new movie "Prey," it's easy to guess at the kinds of films that may have inspired aspects of it. Clearly, you have the former "Predator" films that precede it in the franchise and fill it with Easter eggs. The historical accuracy, attention to detail, and the film's realistic combat bring to mind a number of similar historically set movies that may have influenced various aspects of its intense combat scenes. One kind of movie almost certainly wouldn't be on your average fan's list of guesses, but charmingly enough, it really did influence Trachtenberg's approach to the film: sports dramas.

In an exclusive interview with Looper, Trachtenberg revealed that thinking about sports movies solved a pesky little plot problem: how to find an emotional core in a high-octane sci-fi-action-horror film. Thinking of the story in that light allowed the film to maintain its action-heavy survival tale attributes but still have a strong and moving character arc. It's perhaps the last influence one would expect — where's the 15-minute long training montage? — but it absolutely elevated the plot.

It's the eye of the Yautja, it's the thrill of the fight

In developing the story, it was clear from the onset that Dan Trachtenberg "wanted to make a survival tale, a very man-against-the-elements movie." That's a formula that really works in a "Predator" film — you're hunting, being hunted, and trying to survive against a thing with all the advantages. In our interview, he clarified that he wanted the story to be "told primarily through action," but he "didn't want it to just be that lone visceral experience, [he] wanted it to be emotional as well."

Those aren't easy elements to square, so what can one do? He had an epiphany: What's a genre that's often full of action and yet usually tells emotional stories of one person or one team growing, changing, and overcoming all odds against a nemesis?

"I thought to infuse this with the engine of a sports movie. Make it an underdog story," Trachtenberg explained. "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."

It's an unconventional influence, but surely it's one that really worked to tell the story of the central protagonist, Naru, and her struggles against the deadly alien menace.

"Prey" premieres on August 5 exclusively on Hulu.