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[SFF ’15 Review] ‘Let Us Prey’ Is Visually Stunning; Loses Steam Towards End

Ireland has seen a bit of a revival the past few years in its horror output. There are some forgettable ones and some definite highlights (Citadel, Stitches, Grabbers). Brian O’Malley’s film Let Us Prey is a notable new entry in the Emerald Island’s genre harvest. A paranoid, condensed supernatural thriller, Let Us Prey exhibits brooding visual flair with a story that begins as an engaging mystery, but sadly loses steam at about the midway point. There’s a lot to like here, but that gripping sense of mystery the first half does so well gets lost in its bloody, feverish final chapter.

After an ominous opening credit sequence, we meet by-the-books Officer Rachel Heggie, who has just been transferred to a remote town where things are done a little differently. Pollyanna McIntosh, the impressive lead in Lucky McGee’s The Woman and Simeon Halligan’s White Settlers (which I really enjoyed), is a really compelling actress to watch. She can talk the talk but she’s even more absorbing during her silent moments – when she’s got that look of icy calculation.

On her way to the station, a stranger walks through town and is struck by a car. Rachel runs to his aid only to find the man has vanished. Shortly after, the man appears at the police station and brings a hefty atmosphere of paranoia with him. As this stranger stirs the pot, the small town’s dark secrets begin to surface.

The first half of Let Us Prey has an air of mystery that really gets under the skin. The eerie photography and presence of the bearded stranger enhance this atmosphere and once all of the main characters are set into motion, the real mystery begins.

The whole cast does a top notch job bringing weight to the intrigue, with expressive glances and smirks that belie their intentions. Best known for his role on Game of Thrones, Liam Cunningham delivers an intimidating performance as the stoic stranger who sets the gears in motion. As shit wildly begins to hit the fan, Cunningham keeps his calm demeanor and a gaze that could pierce Kevlar. I wish the script by David Cairns and Fiona Watson gave him a little more juicy material to play with, but for what he’s given Cunningham kills it.

Rachel’s exacting approach to police work does little to impress her new boss, Sergeant MacReady (Douglas Russell), who’s awfully defensive about his little police station. Russell (A Lonely Place to Die, Valhalla Rising) gets to unleash with a truly crazy performance, though the source of his insanity is a wee bit ridiculous.

As Let Us Prey gets progressively more absurd and madly violent, it remains a visually engaging film. Unfortunately that strong sense of mystery the first half maintains so well is pretty much shattered by a climax that doesn’t feel nearly as inspired as the rest of the film. It’s certainly worth a watch, however, thanks to its moody atmosphere, performances, and really, really sharp photography. Just don’t expect any mind-blowing revelations at the end and enjoy the ride.



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COMMENTS

10 Comments
  • J Jett

    i completely loved this movie from start to finish. PollyAnna is (as usual) awesome (and doesn’t she kind of look like she could be Milla Jovovich’s sister? both women are gorgeous!). regarding Liam Cunningham, i know THRONES is popular but don’t you think he’s more well known on this site from his role in DOG SOLDIERS? just curious.

    regarding the 2nd half of the movie. i actually found that half to be even more interesting than the first half. i found “Six’s” interest in Rachel to be very intriguing and mysterious. i gave this a 4.5 out of 5!

  • Sick_skwerl

    I thought it was Scottish, but maybe that was just the young guy’s accent…

  • H666

    Umm Let Us Prey is set in Scotland

  • DeadInHell

    This review intrigued me so I checked out the film’s IMDB page. The plot synopsis sounds really…dumb. I hate mind control as a plot device. It’s the worst trope of all. It’s just pure deus ex machina. Want a character to do something stupid? Mind control. Need to move a precarious plot forward in a way that you can’t make work? Mind control. Wanna save up an important character moment until the end of the movie/season? BLAM, MIND CONTROL.

    Worst.

    • Jim

      quote you: “This review intrigued me so I checked out the film’s IMDB page.”

      Have you actually seen the film? your post doesn’t make us any the wiser as to whether you have.

      Having actually seen the film myself, I would say mind control is minimal and doesn’t crop up in tricky parts of the film for convenience. Most of Cell 6’s psyche actions are evoking flashbacks in people’s minds and having an awareness beyond his immediate vicinity.

    • James

      Did you actually watch the film?

  • Jim

    Just saw this film on Sky. Liked it. I like how the film doesn’t allude too much about the 2 main characters. Was cells 6’s character Satan? or the Grim reaper? could have been either, but it didn’t matter to me because actions speak louder than words and titles. Was the female officer an angel, a person who was chosen to be? or a person who was chosen by satan / reaper to join him in punishing the evil? doesn’t matter to me, and saying which would not make the film any better to me. You don’t need to have people with wings flying around, in the context of religion in the real world this is fantasy too so this film is more “real” for such a fantasy context.

    Most of the other characters were fubar in different ways that’s for sure. Cell 6 does not discriminate in his judgement regardless, despite slight relations to the characters you might want to make that seem to be intended by the film maker without overdoing it (can’t be too kind in portrayal), hence this film was consistent in its characterization in my opinion.

    I always like films when bad people get what they deserve. This one does it in a non-glamorous way which I like.

    I decided to watch this film because I saw it was rated 2 stars on Sky (I think they get their reviews from user generated content) and I know how BS anonymous reviews on the internet are (yes I know I am). I could tell it wasn’t a brand infiltrated by fan-boy reviews, and a dark film with lesser known actors meant the negative reviews were probably from simple minds (without elaborating too much, although I could). Of course I could have been wrong, I know it’s always a gamble when I put in the time to watch a film but I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

    4.2 stars. Nice one.

  • I just watched this movie on Netflix and it FUCKING ROCKED! I can’t believe more people aren’t talking about this movie, seriously. And contrary to what the title says, I didn’t feel like this movie lost steam at the end, the ending was amazing! The cinematography was beautiful, the acting was solid across the board (6 and Pollyanna were amazing), and the plot was completely engrossing. It also has four of the BEST KILLS I have ever seen, and all in one movie! I really enjoyed every minute of this movie and I never got bored or lost interest. I seriously think this movie deserves some kind of award or something, I really thought it was that good…—> I enjoy reading everyone’s interpretation of this movie as well. When it comes to art, everyone’s experience of a movie is different and people gather their own interpretations from their own life experiences. I am not disrespecting anyone here or saying “I’m right you’re wrong.”, but I really feel like 6 was GOD, not the Devil. If he were Satan, he would reward people for bad behavior, not punish it. I know that his name being 6 would allude to 666 and the number of the beast, but I think he is God because he actually punishes evil. I realize that Pollyanna killed someone, but that doesn’t necessarily make her evil. To make an omelet you have to crack a few eggs, and I believe that killing is justified in certain situations. Especially in this movie, because Pollyanna killed someone she knew was going to kill her and tried to attack her. I think 6 is God and he decides that Pollyanna is good enough at heart to join him in his fight against evil. He decides that she is the only one worthy enough to join him, yet strong enough to crack some eggs when she needs to. That’s just my view, not saying it’s the only view. But I LOVED this movie and I still find myself thinking about it, GREAT MOVIE!

  • James

    This movie was surprisingly excellent. Easily one of the best horror movies I’ve seen recently.

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