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Naru hides behind a tree from the Predator in the film Prey Photo: David Bukach/20th Century Studios

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Prey director Dan Trachtenberg walks us through the Predator’s scary new look

‘We wanted to change it more than it’s ever been changed before’

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Joshua Rivera (he/him) is an entertainment and culture journalist specializing in film, TV, and video game criticism, the latest stop in a decade-plus career as a critic.

One of the most exciting things about Prey, the latest film in the Predator franchise, is the way that it finally delivers on one of the few bits of backstory we have about the alien race of hunters. The film, coming straight to Hulu on Aug. 5, reveals that they’ve been stalking humans for centuries. Set in 1719, Prey shows what may be the first time a Predator came to Earth, and given the much earlier time frame, this Predator looks very different from any we’ve seen before.

In keeping with 1987’s Predator and its many sequels and spinoffs, Prey takes a while to offer up a good glimpse of the creature. But when it does, the Predator’s new design is striking. Sleek and unarmored, except for a skull mask in homage to the iconic faceplate, the alien is imbued with relentless and skilled physicality by actor Dane DiLiegro. It’s thrilling to watch, and to watch out for.

“It was exciting to tell a story that’s set 300 years in the past, but it was challenging to develop a creature that would feel at once older, but also far more advanced,” director Dan Trachtenberg told Polygon. “I wanted it to feel much more like an alien creature than ever before, much more feral, ferocious, primal, and be less armored. So then all the technological advances needed to be through its arsenal, through its weaponry.”

The Predator hiding behind a shield in Prey Photo: 20th Century Studios

To that end, the new Predator shows off an extensive array of weaponry throughout the film, much of which will be familiar to fans as it riffs on classic gear used in previous films. There are also a few new surprises. Working with acclaimed visual effects house studioADI, Trachtenberg and the crew developed the new creature’s look and gear in the hopes of designing a Predator that was familiar, yet still “really scary.”

“We wanted to change it more than it’s ever been changed before so it could be a new sight, a new thrill, even for diehard fans of the franchise,” Trachtenberg said. “I think we struck the right balance. And then we had a team of incredible visual effects artists that helped augment the suit, so that in key moments, it could always feel like a living, breathing thing. So that it never felt like it was limited by movie physics, you know that it can always feel the way it should feel like as an alien creature.”

Prey will be available to stream on Hulu Friday, Aug. 5.