SPOILER WARNING: THIS ARTICLE INVOLVES MAJOR PLOT DETAILS FROM THE FILM, PREY.
To really go deep with the meaning of the ending of Prey, we need to get into the thought process of our protagonist, Naru as played by Amber Midthunder.
We are fortunate that we have a heroine icon in the making that grounds the story and personifies what Prey is really about. Everything in the plot revolves around what Naru wants and what she can observe.
Naru is a hunter at heart. Despite the fact that her Comanche tribe only sees her as a “weak woman”, she wants to go out into the woods and hunt. In contrast, her older brother, Taaba, is the face of what a strong hunter should be. For Naru’s Kuhtaamia (A right of passage where a hunter kills something that can kill back), she wants to kill a mountain lion. In the middle of the group hunt, when the mountain lion draws near, Taaba tells Naru that when she is face-to-face with the lion, she must tell it…
“This is as far as you go. No more. This is it.”
Naru’s plan is for some of the hunters to climb trees as bait for the lion to target, while Taaba chases the lion in their direction. The plan seems like it failed when the lion silently climbs the tree. Naru falls from the tree while trying to escape the lion. Naru wakes up in her village rescued by Taaba. When Naru exits her tent, she sees her brother walking towards the village with the head of the decapitated lion in his hands. The village celebrates Taaba’s successful hunt, a sight that makes Naru feel like a failure.
During the night of the hunt for the mountain lion, Naru noticed clues of a gigantic creature in the wilderness, strong enough to kill and strike fear to the hearts of vicious animals. Due to her status in the tribe no one believes her, including Taaba. So, she treks alone searching for this mysterious creature. On her trek through the land we see her struggle. Naru is not your stereotypical embodiment of what a hunter should be, but what lies within her is ingenuity and observation.
It is through Naru noticing every minute detail that Prey’s plot moves forward. The Predator should have only been a silent mysterious creature, but thanks to her keen eye, so many things about how the Predator thinks and acts is revealed. After all, she is the only one who noticed there is a mysterious creature hunting them in the first place.
She notices that The Predator only goes after worthy opponents and will only attack if a creature is armed or looks ready to strike. She notices that when the light of a Predator’s red laser is pointed at someone, that someone is about to be hit by The Predator’s lethal dart. The orange flower medication she gave to the French Traveler lowered his body temperature, so she noticed that The Predator cannot see anyone who has a low temperature.
The most important thing is that Naru noticed that she is the only one who repeatedly survives every time The Predator attacks. When her brother Taaba got killed by The Predator, Naru did not run, she just realized what makes her dangerous is that people and monsters perceive her as weak. Nothing is more dangerous than a threat you can never see coming. Her skill of observation, her ability to make the best of her surroundings, and the fact that The Predator does not perceive her as a threat make her the only creature on Earth capable of hunting The Predator.
NARU VERSUS THE PREDATOR: THE FINAL BATTLE
Everything that Naru has learned about The Predator becomes the tools Naru needs to battle the creature on equal ground. So Prey’s final battle is a celebration of Naru’s ingenuity.
Naru’s trap begins in motion when she captured one of the French travelers that survived The Predator before.
When the man wakes up, he sees a revolver and points it at Naru. This is part of Naru’s plan because she knows that The Predator is near and will attack the French man for being armed. Naru eats the orange flower that lowers her temperature, so The Predator just passes by her and goes to the man to kill it. Slowly, while the man’s decapitated head is being examined by The Predator, Naru points and shoots at The Predator’s head with a revolver. The Predator is wounded and its helmet falls off. Naru quickly grabs the helmet and runs.
Naru goes to a location in the forest where traps are set for The Predator, placing the helmet in a strategic location. Knowing that The Predator is an excellent tracker, she lets the creature follow her. Once The Predator gets to the battleground, Naru sneaks up on it again and attacks with her ax. She runs knowing that The Predator will come after her in a rage, jumping from tree to tree, so Naru puts spikes on the trees to wound the creature while jumping.
Step by step in the battle, we see Naru creatively dealing with The Predator’s attacks. She even tricks the monster into chopping its own arm off with its own folding wrist blade shield.
She uses her roped ax to throw The Predator off balance and it falls into what turns out to be the same mud pit that Naru fell in earlier. Just when we thought The Predator has drowned in the mud pit, the monster slowly rises up and points its dart gun at her.
It turns out this is all part of Naru’s plan. While facing The Predator in the eye, she tells the creature…
“This is as far as you go. No more. This is it.”
We see a red light pointing at The Predator’s head. As it turns out Naru has placed The Predator’s helmet facing the mud pit for this very moment. We realize that this is Naru’s Kuhtaamia, and The Predator is about to die with its own homing dart.
Naru goes back to her Comanche village with Predator blood all over her body and The Predator’s head in her hand. Mirroring when her brother Taaba came home with the head of a mountain lion earlier. She warns her village that a big threat is coming for them and that they should leave. Like her brother before her, Naru is celebrated by the village for successfully killing a strong creature. Finally, Naru is accepted as a hunter.
The end credits roll. Instead of a post-credit scene, we are blessed with Comanche wall art telling the story of the movie from beginning to end, with an added scene of multiple space ships coming towards Earth right after. It seems Naru’s warning is beyond anything the village can ever imagine. The end.
What is so satisfying about this final battle is that Naru did not defeat The Predator with the stereotypical qualities of what a hunter should be, but by just being Naru. What is so satisfying about Naru being celebrated by her people for a successful kill, is that Naru really went from hell and back to earn it. In the end, Naru is the predator, not the prey.
Prey can now be streamed on Hulu. What were your thoughts on Prey? Do you have more to say about the ending? Let us know all of your thoughts and theories over on our Twitter!