starring Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, Dane DiLiegro, Stormee Kipp
screenplay by Patrick Aison
directed by Dan Trachtenberg
by Walter Chaw There is a complete lack of pretense to Dan Trachtenberg's Prey--lack of pretense being one of the emerging traits of a filmmaker whose two films so far (both stealth sequels, both tremendously ethical towards their source materials) are lean genre exercises that feel like minor miracles in a landscape studded with sodden, high-profile disasters. Neither a puzzlebox nor a legacy sequel requiring a spreadsheet and an encyclopedic knowledge of a quarter-century of lore, Prey tells a particular, standalone story in an economical way. It's a coming-of-age period piece with shades of Mel Gibson's Apocalypto; what I'm saying is it means business. Set in the Northern Great Plains in 1719, it follows a spirited young Comanche woman, Naru (Amber Midthunder), as she tries to prove herself as a hunter under the shadow of her brother, Taabe (Dakota Beavers), a gifted bowman and all-around badass who has a stranglehold on the admiration of their tribe. When she follows an all-male hunting party in search of the mountain lion that has attacked one of their people, one of the young men asks her why she's bothered, given that they don't need a cook out there in the wilderness. But she sees things they miss in their arrogance and desire to impress one another. Like the skinned rattlesnake left by a path, or the footprint bigger than anything that should be in this place. The boys discount the latter as nothing to worry about, lest they be seen as cautious and thoughtful--as feminine, like Naru.