The movie Prey is a hit! The film is officially the most-watched premiere in the history of the Hulu platform. Film critics and fans alike have praised its beautiful aesthetic and brutal action. Even our own horror/Predator expert gave it high marks in the official ScreenHub Entertainment review. Against all odds, Prey has managed to breathe new life into the long-struggling Predator franchise.
Along with its critical success, Prey was a big step forward in indigenous representation. With this in mind, ScreenHub Entertainment reached out to a few indigenous creators on TikTok to understand how some members of the Indigenous community feel about this representation. Here’s what they had to say:
“Being Native and Killing a Predator”
Mozart Gabriel (@mozartgabrielofficial) is a talented rock musician and member of the Navajo nation. He is known for proudly representing his culture both on stage and on his personal TikTok account. He was excited to see the level of representation in Prey. In his reaction video, he said:
“It was so nice to watch a native movie where it just had to deal with being native and killing a Predator. It wasn’t cheesy (but I do like the cheese in the Predator movies).”
“Nice Job on the Camp”
April (@apriliris8) is a proud indigenous mom who loves sharing her family and culture in her videos. She is also a co-founder of the Snqʷeyłmistn organization, a non-profit serving people of the Flathead reservation. When reviewing Prey, April was delighted to see some of the details, especially in the camp scenes early in the film:
“So the main character Naru is walking through camp, nice job on the camp by the way, and I see her. I’m like ‘oh my god, they have a woman in there scraping hide’… [and] The momma scene in the teepee, she was grinding medicine! Yes, tell the world we knew what the [explative] we were doing.”
Though she had high praise for some of the details, April did point out some issues with the representation in Prey. The prevalence of “war paint” in scenes depicting daily tasks such as digging roots seemed a bit suspect to her. And while most characters seemed to have a period-accurate wardrobe, the lead character was clothed in a fringe-laden form-fitting outfit.
“The costume design on this was a fail. With the MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women) crisis please stop sexualizing our women. This is such a [expletive] Pocahontas moment.”
“You Really Have to be Intentional”
Johnnie Jae (@johnniejae) is an indigenous creator and founder of A Tribe Called Geek. When she first heard rumors of a film centered around a native woman fighting gender norms to become a warrior, it set off some big red flags. She explained her early concerns about Prey in her video:
“When this movie started being rumored I talked a bunch of smack…It just really seemed like a lot of white patriarchal values and white feminist values were being projected onto native people for the sake of a movie.”
These concerns were entirely valid given Hollywood’s, and especially Disney’s, track record with indigenous representation. Upon learning more about the story being told in Prey, and being invited to cover the production by the Disney PR team, she was pleasantly surprised. Johnnie explained what it takes for a non-indigenous person, like director Dan Trachtenberg, to properly tell an indigenous-centric story:
“I don’t think that only native people should be able to tell native stories. But saying that, if non-natives want to involve a native character or have it centered around a native community, you really have to be intentional about including native people from the very get-go and in every aspect of the creative process… just learning how involved the Comanche nation was in shaping this film and making sure it was correct.”
“He Got to See Himself in his Heroes”
@yllwhrse1 is an indigenous creator and member of the Blackfoot nation with more than 85,000 followers on TikTok. He comments on indigenous culture and the relationships it has with other cultures, and he told a touching story about his viewing of Prey:
“To be honest with you guys, I never really understood the goodness behind that statement ‘representation maters’. I watched this movie with my young son and man, he was glued to the screen the whole time. ‘Dad, this movie is so awesome! The warriors are so cool! I want to kill a predator!’. Watching him watch that movie was one of my best moments as a parent because he got to see himself in his heroes, He got to believe he could be just like them.”
Representation does matter, and some of the steps forward that the entertainment industry has made in recent years are wonderful to see. Some would argue that these steps are coming too slowly, which is valid. However quickly these changes happen, we should all be grateful for films, like Prey, which resonates with people who have so long felt invisible and exposes the rest of us to cultures outside of our own.