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Let Us Prey Review


While the horror genre seems to have been given a shot in the arm as of late, there are still those who wish for a return to the eighties, where horror movies were more about atmosphere, and more importantly, gore. Well, fear not horror fans, for that’s exactly what we get from Irish director Brian O’Malley’s debut feature, Scottish/Irish co-production Let Us Prey.

Set in a strangely abandoned Scottish coastal town, where the maybe only inhabitants are holed up in the police station, rookie cop Rachel's (Pollyanna McIntosh) first night gets off to a strange start with the arrival of Liam Cunningham’s enigmatic stranger. Known only as Six, named for the cell he is held in, he begins to get into the heads of those around him, revealing the dark secrets of not only his fellow prisoners, but the local police force as well.

Let Us Prey gets off to an incredibly promising start with a dark, brooding opening sequence, beautifully framed by cinematographer Piers McGrail, with Steve Lynch’s wonderful John Carpenter-esque, synth heavy score being the cherry on top. It adds a wonderful sense of urgency to proceedings, and really helps hammer home the old school feel O’Malley is trying to capture. Once all the players are in place, Let Us Prey quickly gets down to business, and unfortunately this is when the cracks begin to show. There is plenty of foreboding and atmosphere (thanks again go to McGrail) to pull you through, but the story they are hung on falls back on cliches and groan worthy dialogue far too early, and the over the top gore seems in place only to plaster over the cracks in David Cairns and Fiona Watson’s script. Gore hounds won’t be let down by the level of blood letting on display, with everything from a shoe polisher to table legs being used to shuffle characters off the mortal coil in the most graphic way possible. It’s not that there isn’t a story to be told here, there is, but the ins and outs of how it is told are murky at best, with a lot of what transpires, especially in the unfortunately lazy finale, not really making a whole lot of sense. One case in point, is Douglas Russell transformation from the stern Sergeant to a crazed, bible spouting dealer of justice. There isn’t much reason given for this turn of events, but he does cut quite the figure clad in barbed wire, the sort of sight that would warrant cult status in the eighties.

Cunningham adds a lot of menace to his role as the mysterious stranger handing out retribution like candy, and does his best with the often times hokey dialogue (“We’re not in the redemption game. We’re in the punishment game” being one example) The rest of the cast try, but it’s only McIntosh who can make us see past her thinly written character, becoming the deficit hero of the piece. Everybody else just fills an ugly, over exaggerated part, their characters defined by their backstory, and nothing else.

A beautifully shot throwback to an age in horror when the masters like John Carpenter dominated the landscape, this will no doubt hardcore horror fans, but there isn’t much here for anybody else.

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The Movie Bit: Let Us Prey Review
Let Us Prey Review
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