Prey director on designing Predator: “It’s the smallest, slimmest of the Predators”

The Predator is back – but not as you know the creature. Dan Trachtenberg directs the next movie in the sci-fi franchise, Prey, set 300 years before the original, and tells SFX magazine that the beast has a new look.

“The design for me, though incredible, functionally it’s always been very top-heavy,” he says in the new issue of the magazine, featuring Prey on the cover (opens in new tab). “The head has always been so large to accommodate a person inside, especially when it was developed in the ’80s. This is now the most refined, most proportional head-to-body ratio that’s ever been. We actually were able to get the silhouette to be a little bit more anatomically correct. Frankly, it’s the smallest, slimmest, I think, of the Predators, though still a hulking alien creature.”

Trachtenberg says that Prey “learns the lessons from this franchise and any science fiction movie prior” in terms of creature creation. “It’s a blend of great practical effects – not just the Predator, but also other things we do in the movie – but the Predator as well, and in getting everything people want out of a ‘man in suit’ kind of thing. And all the benefits of that with, I hope, not all the curses, and using CG elements to do things that the suit can’t do.

“So it’s almost entirely a guy in a suit, but we’ve been able to find key ways to enhance it and hopefully trick the audience into feeling like, ‘Oh man, this thing is a living, breathing creature’. There’s a lot of play with weapons we’ve seen in the other movies that are either in this one as well, or we have what could have been an earlier iteration of that weapon. Its mask is entirely new. Basically everything was, ‘How do we make this thing feel much more creature-like, much more alien than it ever had before?’

“I think that while the design is totally iconic, I’ve always worried a little about
the movement and feeling like there’s a professional wrestler inside that suit. We got this great performer Dane DiLiegro and found a way to incorporate his movements to make this creature feel much more feral, much more primal – but still bipedal and intelligent.”

Prey is available on Disney Plus from August 5. For much more on the new movie, check out the current issue of SFX Magazine (opens in new tab). For even more from SFX, sign up to the newsletter, sending all the latest exclusives straight to your inbox.

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