Naru is the young Comanche woman in the 2022 film Prey, directed by Dan Trachtenberg and she tries to prove herself to her tribe as a worthy warrior. Something else is also out there hunting too – a Predator. Naru was played by Amber Midthunder.
September 1719 – The Northern Great Plains
In 1719, in the Northern Great Plains, a young Comanche woman called Naru has dreams of becoming a great hunter like her brother Taabe. She begins to practice her aiming using her tomahawk in the forest. She attempts to hunt a deer with her dog Sarii but is distracted by a noise in the sky. As they run, her dog gets caught in a bear trap. Naru frees Sarii and heals its tail. As they go to the cliffside, they see something emerging from the clouds. Naru takes this as a sign.
Her Comanche tribe gets word that one of their warriors has been attacked by a mountain lion. A group of warriors go out to find their injured tribesman. Naru secretly follows them into the woods and catches up with them. They come across the injured warrior and Naru heals him. Taabe stays behind to hunt the lion while the rest including Naru take the warrior back to their camp. En route, Naru finds a skinned snake and suspects there’s something out there in the jungle.
She returns with another warrior to find her brother to warn him. She finds her brother and the three of them wait it out to see if they can catch the lion. Naru and the Comanche warrior wait in the tree when the warrior is attacked by the lion. The lion is about to attack Naru when she is distracted by a noise in the jungle. She falls from the tree and hits her head. Taabe finds her and takes her back to the camp while he finds and kills the lion.
The next day, Naru sneaks out of her camp with her dog Sarii so she could hunt. She adds a rope to her tomahawk which allows it to be thrown and then returned to her and begins practicing with it in the forest. The next day, Naru comes across a field of skinned buffalo and finds a cigar. She pays her respects to the dead buffalo and leaves. She accidentally falls into a mud pit but uses her new tomahawk weapon to drag herself out of it.
Naru soon spots a grizzly bear by the river and tries to use her bow and arrows. Unfortunately, the bow snaps and the bear is alerted to her presence. Sarii manages to lure the bear away while Naru repairs her weapon. Down by the river, the bear returns. She fires an arrow which hits the bear but it’s relentless in its pursuit of her. She swims underwater and emerges in a beaver dam. As the bear tries to claw its way to her, it backs off realising that something else is standing nearby – the Feral Predator. The cloaked Predator and bear fight and the bear manages to significantly injure the Predator.
The bear believes it has killed the Predator and begins to wonder off. The Feral Predator then gets back up. The bear then charges at the Predator but Feral punches it in the head, killing it. The Predator holds the bear up in triumph and blood pours onto the cloaked Predator. Naru swims down the river to safety.
Naru is soon caught by Wasape and his fellow Comanche warriors who were sent out to bring her back. Wasape and Naru fight and he ties her up. As the warriors prepare to leave, they hear something in the forest. They realise it’s just possums and kill one. Wasape goes to retrieve it and all of a sudden, the Predator’s targeting laser appears on him and the lasers separate. The Predator fires his Bolt Gun which homes in on the lasers and kills the Comanche warrior. The others attack the Predator but the Feral Predator ends up killing all of them. Naru cuts herself free and retrieves her tomahawk and escapes into a tall field of grass.
Another Comanche warrior, Itsee, stops her and they hide in the grass as he waits to ambush the Predator. As the Comanche warrior draws back his bow, the Predator fires at Itsee and they both escape. The Predator pursues Itsee and kills him while Naru gets her foot caught in a bear trap. As the Predator finds her, he sees she is not a threat and leaves her as the French Trappers find her.
It appears the French Trappers have also caught Taabe and try to get answers from Naru. The French Trappers have burnt out the forest and made a trap for the Predator. They tie both Naru and Taabe to a tree in order to lure out the Feral Predator. The Predator kills some of the French Trappers watching them. He ventures further into the burnt out forest. The Predator steps on a hidden bear trap and the French Trappers emerge from the ground and try to tie him down.
This causes the Feral Predator to go into a rage and he kills most of the French trappers using a wide range of methods. He throws a Cut Clamp at a man called Raphael Adolini which severs his leg. Feral eventually escapes the area using the trees while Naru and Taabe free themselves and escape the forest. Naru goes to the French trappers’ camp to rescue Sarii and she kills all the trappers there.
Naru discovers a badly injured Raphael Adolini. He teaches her how to use the flintlock pistol in exchange for medicine. Naru gives him the “orange tutsia” flower to digest which lowers his body temperature. The Feral Predator reaches the camp and Naru hides. She realises the Predator can’t see Adolini because his body temperature is too low. Feral steps on Adolini by accident and kills him.
Sarii runs towards the Predator and the Predator is about to kill it when Taabe comes into the camp riding a horse to rescue Naru. He knocks his mask off and they manage to injure the Predator before it uses its cloak to disappear. It sneaks up on Taabe and stabs him in the back. As the Predator is about to kill Naru, Taabe stabs the Predator in the leg, which allows Naru to escape into the woods.
By the river, Naru spots the French Trapper who tortured Taabe collecting water. She knocks him out and cuts off his leg and gives him an unloaded gun. She eats the herbs to hide her heat signature. The French Trapper regains consciousness which draws out the Predator. The Predator kills the French Trapper and Naru, hiding in plain sight, shoots the Feral Predator in the head from behind which causes his mask to fall off. Naru retrieves the mask and disappears into the woods to prepare for the final battle with the Feral Predator.
After learning the Predator’s abilities and weapons, Naru lures the Predator to the mud pit she fell into earlier. Naru jumps from a tree onto him and injures the Predator with her tomahawk. As the Predator activates his shield, Naru pushes him onto it which severs his arm. Naru falls between rocks and the Predator tries to slice Naru with the shield but the rocks prevent. Naru tears off a mandible and stabs him with it. This allows her time to flee. Sarii brings Naru the tomahawk and she slices at Feral’s legs. She jumps on his back and ties it around his neck and pulls him into the mud pit.
The Predator emerges and uses his Bolt Gun. Before the battle, Naru had placed the Predator’s mask in a specific spot so that the targeting laser would redirect the bolts from his Bolt Gun. The dart is soon redirected. Just as the Predator realises what’s happened, the bolt hits him in the head, killing him. Naru severs his head and paints her face with its glowing green blood and she takes his head back to her camp.
Personality and Traits
Naru wanted to prove herself to her brother Taabe and the rest of her tribe that she is a capable hunter but the idea was dismissed due to her gender. She had a knowledge about ethnobotany – the interrelationship between people and plants due to her being brought up as a healer.
At the beginning of the film, we see Naru trying and failing to hunt a deer, a mountain lion and a bear and tries to learn from her mistakes. When Naru and Taabe are captured by the French Trappers, Naru uses her skills to break the chains and escape. Naru goes to the French Trappers’ camp and manages to slaughter several of them by herself. In the camp, Naru shows great observational skills.
When healing an injured Raphael Adolini, she learns how to use the Flintlock pistol and when the Predator appears, she realises the Predator can’t see Raphael due to his body temperature being too low due to the healing herbs. When the Feral Predator tries to shoot Taabe, she observes how the Bolt Gun works and how it’s tied to the mask’s targeting laser.
After capturing one of the French Trappers by the river, she sets a trap and lures the Predator to her position. The Feral Predator can’t see Naru because she took some of the herbs. She learns from the incident at the camp that the Flintlock pistol must have the right amount of gunpowder in order to use it. As the Predator kills the French Trapper, she uses the opportunity to shoot him in the head and his mask flies off which she quickly retrieves and escapes. She returns to the mudpit and positions the mask in a specific spot pointed at the mudpit. After a brutal fight, Naru pulls Feral into the mudpit and he inevitably uses his Bolt Gun which leads to his death.
When Amber Midthunder auditioned for the part, she didn’t know Prey was a Predator film. Amber knew the story was about a young Comanche woman who wanted to be a hunter. She liked the story and could identify with Naru so she really wanted the part. Amber did her first audition in February 2020. She did two scenes in the audition. The first was the scene with Naru and her mother Aruka in the tipi. This scene was repeated again but this time in silence.
The second scene was between Naru and Dakota Beavers’ character Taabe by the fire. This scene was in Comanche, despite Midthunder and Beavers only studying the language the day before with help from producer Jhane Myers. The two scenes were in the film but were very different to when she initially read them. Because of COVID, movement on the film quietened down and then it was back on track by 2021. Midthunder was told just before filming that Prey was a Predator film.
There was also a physical test where a little obstacle course was setup. They had a stunt coordinator investigate their physicality. Midthunder did a great job at crawling, sliding, leaping as well as telling a story with those movements. Midthunder and Dakota Beavers took part in a 4 week bootcamp before shooting which involved weapons training, Comanche-style archery, spears and tomahawks. Naru’s tomahawk on a rope was inspired by 2018’s God of War video game where the game’s hero Kratos uses a shield and wields an axe.
There was initially some discussion of filming Prey purely in the Comanche language as well as exclusively in English. In the end, they decided to do a mixture of English and Comanche throughout the film but also have a Comanche dub released alongside the English version. Midthunder and the cast returned after filming to do the Comanche dub. There were two Comanche language experts on hand who translated the dialogue of the English script and made sure that their characters really spoke the way a Comanche hunter of 300 years ago would have spoken.
Midthunder shot her scenes in different parts of the wilderness outside and around of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. A lot of the time, she slept in her car as she was far away from her hotel. Midthunder is Nakoda herself and a member of the Fort Peck Sioux Tribe. She shot scenes on Stoney Nakoda reserve land. Midthunder is not Stoney Nakoda but the tribes are related. She grew up around Southwestern tribes so she found it nice to be an area where people had a similar culture to her.
Initially, they were going to shoot Naru’s final scene in the movie first but that was changed to Week Two. They started shooting scenes that were in the Comanche camp first before they moved onto the solo scenes, Trapper scenes and Predator scenes. Naru’s dog Sarii, was played by a Carolina dog called Coco, adopted two months before filming and as a result, didn’t have years of training that is typical of movie dogs. A Carolina dog was found to be the most accurate breed of dog that the Comanche tribe would have had 300 years ago. As Midthunder said, Coco was fully of energy and working with her was chaos at times. Despite this, Midthunder still loved her.
In the scene where Naru is being pursued by the bear, they shot that in two different locations. Naru on the mountain, running away, diving in the water, was shot on location in the mountains somewhere in Alberta. The team hiked down a big hill, got into a paddle boat and arrived by the river. The water was glacial water, runoff from the mountains so even thought it was Summer, it was very cold water. The second location was in a studio where they had a big pool. They built the dam in the river and there was a man in a bear suit who was trying to act like a bear, clawing at Naru. There were effects too of the dam getting destroyed.
- In the film, Dakota Beavers plays Amber Midthunder’s older brother Taabe, but Dakota Beavers is three years younger than Amber Midthunder.
- Prey is the first standalone Predator movie with a female lead. AvP also had a female lead.
- When Naru says, “Do it, do it now!”, are the same words Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character Dutch said in the original Predator.
You can view more images tagged with Amber Midthunder - Naru here.