The Prey: Legend of Karnoctus Review

The Prey - Courtesy Justin Cook PR
The Prey - Courtesy Justin Cook PR /

Danny Trejo features in The Prey: Legend of Karnoctus, co-directed by the Hensman Brothers in what proves to be a fun yet flawed film.

The Prey: Legend of Karnoctus is about a group of mercenaries who find themselves trapped in a cave in Afghanistan alongside U.S. 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 his next prey.

Immediately, the two things that come to mind when thinking about this film are The Descent and the recent entry into The Dark Pictures Anthology video game series, House of Ashes. The trope of a group of people being stuck in a cave system while creatures hunt them down is certainly nothing new. Thankfully, The Prey: Legend of Karnoctus does manage to distinguish itself from these other two projects with the intentional cheesiness and fun plot that the film provides. Whereas The Descent very much takes itself seriously and House of Ashes is a video game, The Prey: Legend of Karnoctus has a level of cheesiness that makes this movie more fun and something that clearly takes itself much less seriously. This movie should speak to people who enjoy campy/creature horror of the 80s and don’t mind retreading a horror trope and location that has been explored before.

The Prey: Legend of Karnoctus
The Prey – courtesy Justin Cook PR /

When watching The Prey: Legend of Karnoctus, I found myself thoroughly entertained throughout both the first and third acts of the film. These acts provide a sense of sitting back and having fun. On the other hand, the second act is unfortunately much more on the dull side and isn’t as fun. Many characters feel like fodder for the monster yet don’t add anything, and some are incredibly unlikeable and not in a seemingly purposeful way. Having characters who are fodder is fine and something to expect in many movies, especially in the horror genre; however, there never feels to be any payoff to having these characters. There is also a side plot in the film’s second act that feels pointless. Even though I understand why it was in the movie, there were certainly more effective ways to give the audience the character developments that that side plot introduces.

While the second act may be more on the tedious side, the first act is a lot of fun and the third act gives some surprisingly great emotional moments. They may not hit as hard given the noticeable buildup, but the fact that they hit at all is impressive. It needs to be said though, that these moments probably would’ve hit even better if the film focused on an even more core group of characters, and if the second act side plot was reworked.

The Prey: Legend of Karnoctus
The Prey – Courtesy Justin Cook PR /

The Prey: Legend of Karnoctus offers the extremely recognizable face of Danny Trejo, of Machete fame, who gives this movie his all. Danny Trejo never does anything halfheartedly and this movie is no different. However, the lack of Trejo’s character throughout the film is highly distracting. It comes across much more as the film couldn’t afford to have him for too much time instead of having the lack of screen time woven naturally into the movie’s story as would’ve been preferred.

This also leads to another point with the film: it is clearly and very much comes across that it is on a small budget. While I actually found this to be quite charming and fun about the film, it will undoubtedly turn some people off, as there are moments that are clearly done for cheap, especially in the first act. Thankfully though, the movie doesn’t cheap out on the effects of the gore, especially when seeing the aftermath of the kills, which look impressively realistic. While the gore effects  may be impressive, the wonky and cheesy VFX certainly make this movie not likely to be seen in theaters. It feels much more like a movie that would be more fun to enjoy at home, which there is nothing wrong with.

If you love cheesy creature films from the mid to late 1900s, notably the 80s era, then The Prey: Legend of Karnoctus will be a lot of fun. However, if you find cheesy horror to be more on the cringe side and not enjoyable, this will more than likely do nothing for you. I fall more into the former category, since this horror film genre can be enjoyable, and I believe The Prey can be a great example of this.

The Prey: 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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Are you interested in seeing The Prey: Legend of Karnoctus? Have you already seen it? Let us know in the comments section!