Dan Trachtenberg and Amber Midthunder’s new Predator prequel, Prey, is drawing strong reviews from across the critical and fan worlds this weekend, as Hulu audiences find themselves drawn into its hyper-focused, disciplined take on the long-running sci-fi franchise.
Meanwhile, “hyper-focused” and “disciplined” are absolutely not descriptors that could be applied to Prey’s break-out star: Coco the dog, who plays Sarii, the loyal canine companion of Midthunder’s character, hunter hopeful Naru. Coco/Sarii is one of the big pleasures of the film—and also the Prey press tour, as both Midthunder and Trachtenberg do their best to emphasize their deep love for her, while also being pretty honest about the fact that she was a massive, cheerful, energetic, joyful impediment to actually getting the goddamn movie made.
“She was kind of a disaster,” Midthunder said in an interview with Dexerto this week. “She was a little bit of a hot mess—but in a sweet way.” Midthunder notes that Coco—who’s a Carolina dog, a breed theorized to have been used by indigenous people in the Americas before European colonization, and which still exists in feral populations to this day—was “Not a movie dog. She was literally adopted to be in this movie, and she just happened to be very high-energy.”
Trachtenberg, meanwhile, described how it was “Always a nail-biting moment for us on set, ‘Is Coco gonna like, make her mark and do what she needs to do?’” All of this, again, with maximum affection: “It was sometimes a journey to get there, but eventually she always did. It was very exciting, lots of cheers would happen when we finally got a great take with Coco.”
And, really, we are very here for Midthunder and Trachtenberg both being extremely diplomatic about Coco, presumably lest her publicist hear them saying a bad word about her. Midthunder: “So much of Coco being around was her running wild and doing laps and so excited to see everyone all the time. For me, personally, she was a dream. For making a movie, you know… The character of Sarii is very different than the character of Coco. That shows what a good filmmaker Dan is.”
Trachtenberg notes that he was inspired to add a dog to the film by his love for The Road Warrior. But it turns out there is a peril to adding a lovable dog companion to your movie: “Everyone as we were developing it and showing cuts to friends and family, was like, ‘More dog! We love the dog!’ I was like, ‘You don’t understand. We are using every usable frame of this dog.’”
Anyway: Prey is very good—if not necessarily as good as Coco.