Why the Definitive Cut of Prey Is in Comanche
The film is obviously a product of science fiction and fantasy, complete with invisible cloaks and the neon green blood that now looks like a historical relic itself, albeit from the 1980s. However, unlike recent, stumbling attempts to relaunch the Predator franchise, Prey also succeeds by mirroring a real culture and real world that has long been undervalued onscreen.
“I thought about how Native Americans, and specifically Comanche, are so often relegated to playing sidekicks or the villains,” Trachtenberg says, “never the hero. So it was sort of a combination of all those things that wound up as the idea of this film.” And while Trachtenberg and his screenwriter Patrick Aison did not come from Native backgrounds, producer Jhane Myers does. As a woman of Comanche descent, she sees Prey as a unique and golden opportunity.
“For me, this is amazing because we always wonder what life was like on the Great Plains back in the 1700s,” Myers beams after entering the Den of Geek studio at San Diego Comic-Con. “So it’s pretty amazing to bring people to see just that. You see what that life is like and what the Comanche world is.” This also ties into one of the most intriguing aspects of the film: There will be a second version of Prey available on Hulu exclusively in the Comanche language.
While the default version that will be offered to Hulu users in the U.S. (and Disney+ users in the UK) will feature all of the lead actors speaking in English with smatterings of actual Comanche (as well as some French), every scene was alternatively filmed with actors like Midthunder and Dakota Beavers, who plays Naru’s courageous brother Taabe, speaking the same lines in Comanche.
When we ask Myers if she thinks that is the definitive cut of the movie, she says, “I think, for me, yes absolutely. Because this is the first time that a brand new feature film coming out has ever been in my language in Comanche, and this is also a first for Native people because this is the first time a brand new movie is out in a Native language. So I recommend that you watch it two times. Watch it once in Comanche and once in English.”
To achieve that effect onscreen was a learning process for many involved, including the stars. For instance, Midthunder is descended from Lakota, Dakota, and Nakoda people. Thus taking on a Comanche story was a great responsibility; yet getting the chance to tell that story on Nakoda lands was also a rare and precious opportunity for her as well.