Why Prey should have hit theaters

Preythe last movie of the long Predator series, is finally out after creating a lot of buzz over the past few weeks. It was for good reason as a director Dan Trachtenbergwho made the same strong 10 Cloverfield Lane, has created another work that carves out a place in a well-rehearsed franchise that feels fresh. He presents a fascinating performance of Amber Middle of Thunder as Naru, a resourceful hunter who somehow seeks to track down the infamous Predator and kill it. Lean and mean with a keen eye for striking visuals, this is truly exceptional work that begs to be seen on the largest canvas possible.

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Unfortunately, it’s not showing in theaters all over the world as it’s coming straight to Hulu in the US and Disney+ where it’s available elsewhere. It’s a shame because the film is an exciting work that deserved to be seen on the big screen with all of its visceral visuals and full-screen action. While this is by no means the first time something like this has happened in the age of streaming, there’s still the unwavering feeling that it was a missed opportunity. A movie like this should have at least gotten a simulcast release in theaters to let audiences choose how they wanted to see it. The experience of seeing a movie in theaters is fundamentally different in that it’s more immersive and generally how the actual creators of the work intended to see it. Although there is still much to enjoy in Prey, in any case, the extent of its landscapes and the many well-constructed sequences would have greatly benefited from being screened in theaters. All of the dark beauty the movie finds in combining the creepy sounds and vibrant visuals doesn’t play out quite the same at home.


While there were a lucky few who got to see the movie at San Diego Comic-Con where he received a standing ovation, a wider audience will not have the same opportunity. The closer the film got to its release, the weirder the decision became. It’s a Predator sequel we’re talking about, one of the most beloved series that consistently blends sci-fi with horror and action to gorgeous results. Why don’t you release it in theaters? For a movie that so many people were thrilled to be sent straight to streaming, this just seems weird. Make no mistake, nothing can completely dull the strength of Trachtenberg’s vision and the confidence with which he executes it. There are so many great moments that emerge as some of the best in the series. Whether it’s the battle in the ashes surrounded by dead trees or the many moments where Naru methodically fights his way through danger, it’s all exactly what would absolutely kill in a theater. At home? It just won’t leave the same impact, even if its told story doesn’t pull any punches.


RELATED: ‘Prey’ Director Dan Trachtenberg Reveals How He Wanted To Differ From Previous ‘Predator’ Movies

While there are many possible reasons why the movie may have skipped theaters, none of them are aimed at curating the best possible viewing experience. This all stinks to be a business decision as opposed to an artistic decision. Movies should not be banned from streaming under any circumstances, it is an integral part of the release landscape. However, when a TV show turned into a feature film like Bob’s Burgers was able to get a theatrical release before going to Hulu and Prey was not, something is wrong. It’s no disrespect to the Belchers, they seem like a lovely family, but the priorities here remain perplexed. This decision-making does a disservice to everyone involved who put their hearts and souls into this work of art. For Midthunder, who gives a towering performance that never stops, not having her flowers on the big screen just doesn’t make sense. Seeing Trachtenberg, who clearly enjoys toying with the genre, not release his intriguing second feature in theaters is a huge disappointment. We all remember going to see a movie at the cinema that really blew our minds and Prey had the potential to be one of those works from the brilliant opening moment where the clouds are disrupted by a descending spaceship as the title card falls. It took familiar material in really exciting directions that don’t hit as hard on the small screen.


The theatrical experience is what makes works like Prey shine the brightest because there’s something magical about capturing every detail of a well-designed room. From the rustles of approaching danger to the chilling rattle of the Predator stalking its prey to the terrifying sight of it emerging from camouflage, everything feels awkward in streaming. On top of that, as last week showed us, entire films can disappear from these services depending on the whims of those who watch over them. Plus, they often don’t get physical releases, which means we only rent them even when we pay for a subscription to one of the many streaming sites. Although it certainly seems that Prey will hopefully get some sort of physical release later this year, it’s hard to shake the feeling of how quickly that could change if a streaming service decides to ban it. While artists have never had full ownership of their work as there remains a business to get them made in the first place, the growing abandonment of how best to both present and preserve their films is a step in back.


Although you absolutely must enjoy the viciously vibrating experience of Prey, its lackluster version is the most present and profound example of why streaming alone isn’t the best way to go. When you walk into a theater and put away all the distractions to attend a work in the best possible setting, there’s nothing else like it. It is the closest thing to having an out of body experience, short of hallucinogenic drugs, as you are transported into the vast potentials of a different world. It’s the culmination of months if not years of various artists coming together to create something. While there can be bad cinematic experiences where films end up falling flat, there’s nothing quite like seeing a thrilling piece of work completely capture your imagination. Prey is one of the latter, gripping and gruesome while being beautifully shot. It’s a beautiful creation that embraces her B-movie sensibilities which she then turns into something spectacular. It’s a shame most of us can’t see it in all its glory, though hopefully future films like this will be more fair.

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