Prey is Dan Trachtenberg’s latest directorial credit and is moving closer to its release date of August 5, 2022, shedding new light on his previous work that reflects his similarly unique style. The rising director has been in the industry since 2003, however, his portfolio is quickly becoming an impressive one with director credits for The Boys, Black Mirror, Waterworld, and The Lost Symbol.
As with many other of his peers, the journey for directors is often a slow, painful process. If Prey is a success, fans can expect Trachtenberg to start tackling more prominent franchises, perhaps earning a few Marvel or Star Wars credits down the road.
8 BlackBoxTV: “More Than You Can Chew” – 6.9
For Tranchtenberg’s second directorial credit, he went to television directing an episode for BlackBoxTV. More Than You Can Chew is the eighth episode of the second season that starred J. Kristopher, Skye P. Marshall, Ian Hamrick, and Bailey Vena. The episode starts like a typical first responder series: a rooky paramedic and her partner respond to a 911 house call of an extremely unusual nature. However, during its halfway point, the tone shifts to the eerie feeling that is BlackBoxTV.
The Twilight Zone-like series was released on YouTube weekly, and predominately featured shorts. The 5-minute episode was perfect to showcase Dan Trachtenberg’s more aggressive directorial side. While his first short, Kickin’ was about finding inner strength, More Than You Can Chew let viewers and production teams know that Trachtenberg was equipped for thriller and horror-centric work.
7 Portal: No Escape – 7.1
Finding their wheelhouse in the action and science fiction genre, Trachtenberg wrote and directed Portal: No Escape. Starring Danielle Rayne, Alex Albrecht, and Brad Arnold; the film centers on a woman who awakens in a testing facility, with no memory of how they got there. However, as the woman (Danielle Rayne) realizes they are being imprisoned, a plan to escape begins to develop.
Filming a short can be a more challenging task than expected. Showcasing an entire story in the time given (in this instance, 7 minutes) can make it difficult if not impossible to flesh out characters, a story, and a conclusion. Fortunately, shorts are what Dan Trachtenberg excels at. While the short featured some missteps, the attention to detail was prevalent. In order to show the passage of time, Dan filmed a prison sequence showing cameras in their sped-up version: allowing the acts to form a cohesive story.
6 The Lost Symbol: “As Above, So Below” – 7.1
Dan Trachtenberg directed the pilot for the Peacock series, The Lost Symbol. Starring Ashley Zukerman, Eddie Izzard, and Valorie Curry: the show follows a young Robert Langdon (The Da Vinci Code) as he finds himself pulled into a complex situation when his former mentor is kidnapped. Throughout The Da Vinci Code series, Langdon used his knowledge of history, symbols, and dead languages to solve the mystery and The Lost Symbol is no different in this regard.
After a two-year hiatus, Trachtenberg returned to direct an episode of this thriller series. Following the highly successful book series by Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol’s “As Above, So Below” aimed to recapture the magic of Robert Langdon. The series consists of 10 episodes streaming on Peacock.
5 10 Cloverfield Lane – 7.2
Trachtenberg’s full-length feature debut: 10 Cloverfield Lane is part of the Cloverfield horror/science fiction anthology series. The film stars John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher Jr. 10 Cloverfield Lane follows the story of Michelle, who is trapped in an underground bunker by a man that insists there is danger outside, and that the surface of the Earth is uninhabitable.
The film received 48 nominations including 16 wins for Best Thriller Film, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay. 10 Cloverfield Lane launched Trachtenberg’s career to new heights, while the director did excellent work in shorts: the additional run-length of a feature film let Dan truly explore his directorial techniques.
4 Black Mirror: “Playtest” – 8.1
After the success of 10 Cloverfield Lane, Trachtenberg returned to television by directing an episode of Netflix’s Black Mirror series. Starring Wyatt Russell, Hannah John-Kamen, and Wunmi Mosaku: Playtest follows an American who beta-tests an upcoming augmented reality game. Unfortunately, the horror game accesses the brain and targets the player’s deepest fears.
Firmly setting roots in the thriller and horror genre, Trachtenberg brilliantly showcased the unique and creative psychological aspect Black Mirror is known for. While the initial script was written by Charlie Brooker, the revised version was a collaboration between him and Trachtenberg. Playtest was nominated for a British Academy Television Craft Award and a Visual Effects Society Award.
3 Kickin’ (Short) – 8.6
Directed and co-written by Dan Trachtenberg, Kickin’ stars Matthew Daily, Joseph George Pcolinsky, and Adam Roy. The short, rated 8.6/10 by IMDb, showcases a soccer field showdown where the “Bully” has the upper hand and all the advantages. It is up to J.C. to find his inner strength and courage to unleash his skill and defend his friends.
A passion project by Trachtenberg, Kickin’ was produced by Primitive World Productions. Like most directors’ debuts, the film was not widely distributed. However, the 9-minute short was enough to keep Trachtenberg’s trajectory on the upside as he joined production crews over the next few years: finally getting his second directorial chance with the BlackBoxTV television series in 2011.
2 The Boys: “The Name Of The Game” – 8.7
Sticking to television, Trachtenberg returned to direct Amazon Prime’s The Boys pilot. Starring Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, and Antony Starr: The Name of the Game follows Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid) who suffers from mental trauma after his girlfriend is killed in an accident with a celebrity superhero. The pilot introduces audiences to many of the hit show members including “Starlight”, “Homelander”, and “Billy Butcher”.
The outrageous Amazon Prime series is something many look forward to. Without the success of Trachtenberg’s pilot, the series may have never been greenlit for a second season and beyond. While YouTube and Netflix may have had certain censorship requirements, Amazon Prime gave Trachtenberg the opportunity to showcase his entire vision. The Boys is known for its “in-your-face” violence, nudity, and brutality as it showcases the corruption superheroes are involved with in their day-to-day business.
1 Prey: 2022 – Not Yet Rated
In what could be a career-defining moment, Prey is set to release in August 2022. The latest Predator installment stars Amber Midthunder, Dane DiLiegro, and Harlan Blayne Kytwayhat. Prey is set in the world of the Comanche Nation 300 years ago; it follows the story of Naru, a skilled warrior who fights to protect her tribe from one of the first Predators to land on Earth.
Premiering exclusively on Hulu, Trachtenberg has the biggest test of his career ahead of him. An installment into one of the most familiar and classic science fiction franchises will warrant all the praise or criticism Prey will receive. However as Trachtenberg has shown audiences before, the director is fully capable of delivering high-quality, high-stakes science fiction.
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