Let Us Prey: Broody British-Irish Horror
Bryan LarkinLiam Cunningham...
The stylised visuals and morbidly quiet atmosphere underlying Brian O’Malley’s debut feature, Let Us Prey – a Scottish-Irish horror production written by David Cairns and Fiona Watson – is unlikely to appeal to everyone, especially to those who have become more accustomed to the more mainstream horror of the last decade. However, if you’re able to find time to appreciate its unusually simple, dark and gruesome beauty, you’ll find a frightening, and occasionally enlightening, viewing experience.
Set in a quiet and deserted town located somewhere in Scotland, we meet Police Constable Rachel Heggie (McIntosh) who is getting ready for her first night on the job. On her way to the police station, she encounters and quickly arrests Ceasar Sargison (Verne), who runs over a stranger (Cunningham), who – as if by magic – is quick to vanish into thin air soon after.
Making her way into the station, Rachel is greeted by her slimy-looking boss, Sergeant MacReady (Russell), and fellow officers, Jack Warnock (Larkin) and Jennifer Mundie (Stanbridge), who are not so keen on the newcomer’s straight and by-the-books approach to the job. The police station’s lazy energy soon takes a dark turn with the reappearance of the silent stranger.
Let Us Prey is a slow-burner whose dark energy is setup – and felt – from the film’s opening scenes where an elegant slow-motion visual of waves crashing against the rocky Scottish shorelines and flying crows swarming under the big grey sky, sets the scene for the impending darkness, mystery and melancholy. The plot is far from original and the dialogue comes across as a little unimaginative at times, but the film’s imperfections are atoned by its spectacular cinematography and a perfectly-suited claustrophobic setup. The story plays out during one night and O’Malley manages to create and overwhelming sense of doom, which is pleasantly intercepted with a light dose of dark humor.
Standing as an infectious and an intimidating central force mystery, Game of Throne’s Liam Cunningham offers a fantastically vindictive and a convincing performance of a nameless mercenary who is out for blood from those who have sinned. Enigmatic and quietly threatening, Cunningham is the true star here – even if his supernatural ways are never fully explained – while McIntosh serves up the goods as the brave and beautiful heroine of the picture.
While Let Us Prey is far from original, it serves as another example of the growing force that is European horror cinema; it’s an unconventional and entertaining piece of film that maintains its suspense and terror in the minds of its audience from beginning to end.