Danny Trejo appears in The Prey: Legend of Karnoctus, co-directed by the Hensman Brothers in what turns out to be a fun but flawed movie.
The Prey: The Legend of Karnoctus is about a group of mercenaries who find themselves trapped in a cave in Afghanistan alongside American soldiers. As the two groups work together to find a way out of the maze-like cave system, they discover that a beast in the cave, named Karnoctus, has chosen the two groups to be its next prey.
Immediately the two things that come to mind when thinking about this movie are Lowering and recent entry into The Dark Pictures Anthology video game series, Ash house. The trope of a group of people stuck in a cave system while creatures hunt them down is certainly nothing new. Fortunately, The Prey: The Legend of Karnoctus manages to set itself apart from those other two projects with the intentionally corny and fun plot that the film provides. Whereas Lowering takes itself very seriously and Ash house is a video game, The Prey: The Legend of Karnoctus has a level of cheese that makes this movie more fun and something that clearly takes itself a lot less seriously. This movie should be for people who love 80s campy/creature horror and don’t mind retreading a horror trope and location that’s been explored before.
Looking at The Prey: The Legend of Karnoctus, I found myself completely amused throughout the first and third acts of the film. These acts feel like sitting down and having fun. On the other hand, the second act is unfortunately much more boring and less fun. Many characters feel like monster fodder but add nothing, and some are incredibly unlikable and not in a seemingly intentional way. Having characters who are fodder is fine and something to be expected in many movies, especially in the horror genre; however, there never seems to be a reward for having these characters. There’s also a subplot in the film’s second act that feels pointless. While I understand why it was in the movie, there were definitely more effective ways to give audiences the character developments that this subplot introduces.
While the second act can be more tedious, the first act is great fun, and the third act provides some surprisingly emotional moments. They might not hit as hard given the noticeable buildup, but the fact that they hit at all is impressive. It must be said, however, that these moments would probably have been even better if the film focused on an even larger group of characters and if the second act’s subplot had been reworked.
The Prey: The Legend of Karnoctus features the extremely recognizable face of Danny Trejo, Machete celebrity, who gives everything to this film. Danny Trejo never does anything halfway and this film is no different. However, Trejo’s lack of character throughout the film is very distracting. It comes across a lot more as the film couldn’t afford to have it too long instead of having the lack of screen time woven naturally into the film’s story as would have been preferred.
This also leads to another point with the film: it’s plain and very obvious that it’s on a low budget. While I found this quite charming and amusing about the film, it will no doubt put off some people, as there are moments that are clearly cut short, especially in the first act. Thankfully, the film doesn’t overlook the effects of the gore, especially when seeing the aftermath of the murders, which seem incredibly realistic. While the gore effects can be impressive, the wonky and cheesy visual effects certainly make this film unlikely to be seen in theaters. It’s much more like a movie that would be more fun to watch at home, which there’s nothing wrong with.
If you like corny creature movies from the mid to late 1900s, especially the 80s era, then The Prey: The Legend of Karnoctus will be great fun. However, if you find cheesy horror to be more on the cringe side and not enjoyable, it probably won’t do anything for you. I rather fall into the first category, because this kind of horror film can be enjoyable, and I believe The prey can be a great example.
The Prey: The Legend of Karnoctus plays for a week in a Los Angeles theater on June 3, then is available for cable video on demand on June 7, and finally on platforms such as iTunes, Amazon Prime and Vudu on July 7.
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