A prequel to a 1980s blockbuster follows a high-tech alien warrior: NPR

Preythe new prequel to the 1987 blockbuster Predator streaming on Hulu, features a sophisticated soundtrack influenced by both Indigenous cultures and video games.



DON GONYEA, HOST:

And finally today, the movie “Prey” is a prequel to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1980s blockbuster “Predator.” “Prey” is streaming now on Hulu. It’s about a high-tech alien warrior landing on the Comanche plains 300 years ago. The score has its own backstory, as reported by Tim Greiving.

TIM GREIVING, BYLINE: The original Predator was a vicious space game hunter equipped with heat vision, a cloaking device, and big, obnoxious mandibles.

(ROARING CREATURE SOUND EXTRACTION)

GREIVING: The new film “Prey” goes back in time for an origin story, plunging the predator into the bucolic world of the Comanche people before the actual invasion of alien settlers from Europe.

(SOUND EXTRACTION OF SARAH SCHACHNER’S “NARU’S WAY”)

GREIVING: “Prey” director Dan Trachtenberg and producer Jhane Myers, a Comanche herself, filled out the cast with native actors and even recorded a Comanche-language dub. But Trachtenberg is also a player. And for the film’s score, he sought out a non-Native video game composer he admired, Sarah Schachner.

(SOUND EXTRACTION OF “THE FATE OF EASTERN MERCIA” BY SARAH SCHACHNER)

SARAH SCHACHNER: He had played Assassin’s Creed Valhalla while they were in production on the film, and he really liked what he heard.

GREIVING: Schachner specializes in researching ancient and unusual instruments and weaving them into a tapestry of modern action. She found a collaborator from a list of native musicians sent by producer Jhane Myers, including a Grammy winner from New Mexico who felt the story of “Prey” was surprisingly familiar.

ROBERT MIRABAL: Living on a traditional pueblo with ancient stories and an ancient philosophy, we have stories like this, star people, from – we call them (non-English language spoken) or (non-English language spoken).

GREIVING: Robert Mirabal grew up in Taos Pueblo and still lives there.

MIRABAL: These don’t even translate except for sky people or mud soaked people or something like that. So it was just something we grew up with.

(SOUND EXTRACTION OF “THE ONSLAUGHT” BY SARAH SCHACHNER)

GREIVING: For “Prey,” Mirabal had the chance to introduce his work to a more mainstream audience. He marries traditional Indigenous idioms and instruments with modern jazz and rock. He plays several instruments but specializes in flutes, including a double-barreled one he invented himself.

(SOUND EXTRACTION OF “FLESH AND BONE” BY SARAH SCHACHNER)

GREIVING: Composer Sarah Schachner asked Mirabal to come into a studio and improvise a library of free sounds and notes. She took those tracks and incorporated them into her score for “Prey.” This being in the middle of the pandemic, he was in New Mexico. She was in Los Angeles. At the end of their day-long remote recording session, Schachner asked Mirabal if he was also singing.

SCHACHNER: And he was like, yeah, I sing. And he just sang something so honest and pure.

(SOUND EXTRACTION OF THE SONG, “COMMUNION”)

MIRABAL: (Vocalizing).

SCHACHNER: It touched me when he sang it. And I know it was so unplanned, and it really helped at certain points in the movie, to give that kind of extra layer of depth.

(SOUND EXTRACTION OF THE SONG, “COMMUNION”)

MIRABAL: (Vocalizing).

It’s almost like you’re whispering this story. There’s a visual aspect to it, but there’s a whole other mystical side to this story being whispered to you through the music.

GREIVING: So if you watch “Prey,” a movie about a high-tech humanoid dismembering his victims, listen to that whisper between all the screams. For NPR News, I’m Tim Greiving.

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