By JOEL HARLEY
Starring Nick Chinlund, Danny Trejo and Kevin Grevioux
Directed by Eric Hensman
Written by Gus Sainz and Matthew Hensman
LENNEXE FILMS in association with Mano a Mano, Chu Media and Cinematic Rex
While fighting the Taliban, a group of fresh-faced rookie soldiers gets more than they bargained for when they find themselves trapped in a collapsed cave system. Their numbers already reduced following a disastrous ambush, the squad is first trapped underground, then subjected to bizarre visions after unwittingly opening a canister of hallucinogenic gas.
Between its rookie recruits, cannon fodder Taliban, and a shady special ops team (which briefly counts Danny Trejo among its number), this might just be the most overcrowded cave system in all of Afghanistan, which makes for plenty of meat for a hungry Karnoctus to chow down on. But is the beast (“some sort of Afghani Sasquatch”) real or just a result of the mystery gas-induced hallucinations?
Part Dog Soldiers, part The Hills Have Eyes (’07 version), with a bit of Jarhead sprinkled in for good measure, this bold and brash creature feature goes all-in on its dong-swinging squaddie dynamics. It’s a good stretch before Karnoctus shows up, and all of that time is spent with its alpha-male, pop-culture referencing bros – plus the obligatory “sensible soman,” played by Masika Kalysha.
While much of the dialogue plays out like Shane Black or Tarantino-lite, this does net viewers a sequence in which Danny Trejo (in his five minutes of screentime) throws off a burkha with a scream of “Salam Alaikum!” and unloads a magazine on a Taliban nest. This odd combination of pop culture references and macho gunslinging is amusing at first, but it does get grating after the umpteenth slave Leia reference or so.
That THE PREY: LEGEND OF KARNOCTUS should keep its titular beast hidden for so long makes sense when the thing eventually shows its face. Maybe all the Star Wars references aren’t in vain then, as it does look like it wandered in off the set of The Empire Strikes Back. But filmmakers Cire and Matthew Hensman can only keep their monster hidden for so long, and then, it’s time to start burning through all those excess characters.
Even at an hour and a half, the film feels too long, with too many characters and plots going on at once. However, this surprisingly goofy creature feature has an undeniable knockabout charm, devolving into an entertaining final fight between man and, uh, Afghani Sasquatch.
Ultimately, THE PREY: LEGEND OF KARNOCTUS is a brazen Predator rip-off, delivered with B-movie gusto.
THE PREY: LEGEND OF KARNOCTUS is now available nationwide for sale or rental on all Cable, Satellite and Telco platforms as of June 7th, including Comcast, Charter, DirectTV, Cox, Verizon Fios, Dish, Sling and AT&T U-verse. On July 7th, THE PREY: LEGEND OF KARNOCTUS will debut on digital sale and rental platforms including, iTunes, Amazon Video Direct, Vudu and Google Play.