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The Prey: Legend of Karnoctus (2022) Review

Originally filmed as simply The Prey, The Prey: Legend of Karnoctus, had the unwieldy subtitle added to help distinguish it from everything from Norman J Warren’s exploitation gem Prey to the 80s slasher The Prey and the more recent Cambodian riff on The Most Dangerous Game also titled The Prey, starts in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan as something large and furry gives US forces a helping hand by taking out a couple of Taliban soldiers.

Elsewhere in the area, a US squad is on patrol, but the fireworks are being provided by a well-armed group of mercenaries including Vega (Danny Trejo, A Tale of Two Guns, The Legend of La Llorona), Gunnar (Adrian Paul, Highlander, 9 Miles Down), Tagger (Nick Chinlund, American Violence, Close Range) and Reid (Kevin Grevioux, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, I, Frankenstein). But they’re not working as security contractors, they’re there to help themselves to some Taliban gold.

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Of course, their gunfire draws the attention of the American soldiers as well as more Afghanis, and both the soldiers and the mercs end up sealed in a cave. Yes, the cave from the prologue, and we know what else is in there.

The thought of Danny Trejo in a low-budget version of Predator is certainly appealing to a B movie fan like myself. Unfortunately, The Prey: Legend of Karnoctus goes south almost immediately. The heist scene is staged so ineptly that I had to watch it twice to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. Apart from the use of totally out-of-place music, we see the same guy run out of the same door multiple times and instead of CGI blood, there’s what looks like a frame-filling conventional animation of blood.

The feeling it gives off is that the film was never finished and placeholder footage and music were left in. That feeling is reinforced by the use of voiceovers later in the film and social media accounts that reveal The Prey: Legend of Karnoctus was shot in 2013 and 2014 with a long on-and-off post-production period.

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Trejo and Paul, unsurprisingly, exit The Prey: Legend of Karnoctus shortly after this, sent to get the chopper that’s going to ferry them and the gold out. While they do that, we get to endure a lot of squabbling between the two groups, walking around in the dark and conspiracy theories about the CIA and the Taliban as well as global politics and economics. It’s not quite all talk, however, as we do get some camel spiders and a quick look at the creature.

In the last half hour The Prey: Legend of Karnoctus tries to get some momentum going, and we do see more of the creature which is a practical man in a suit effect. We also get some gore, which is also practical. But the creature needed to turn up and be a factor in the film a lot sooner. And with it being a guy in a suit rather than CGI, there’s no reason why it couldn’t have.

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Instead, directors Ciré and Matthew Hensman and co-writers Matthew and Gustavo Sainz de la Peña chose to work in pointless subplots involving hallucinations and voiceovers to try and explain what’s going on instead of fighting monsters. Why they made that choice when they had a plot that should have been DTV gold is beyond me.

The Prey: Legend of Karnoctus will open in Los Angeles on June 3rd at the Regency Theatres, Van Nuys Plant 16 for a weeklong run. On June 7th it comes to VOD and on July 7th it will be available on Digital platforms. You can check the film’s website and Facebook page for more information. And if you’re looking for something similar while you wait, or maybe instead of, The Prey: Legend of Karnoctus FilmTagger has a few ideas.

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