Capsule Review Film Review

'Let Us Prey' Toronto After Dark Capsule Review

October 26, 2014Ben Mk


   

Halloween has its roots in Ireland, but the country itself has seldom been known as a hotbed of horror filmmaking. So when a movie like Let Us Prey, which so colorfully wears its genre inspirations on its sleeve, comes along, you can't help but take notice. The Irish-Scottish co-production and debut feature from Ireland's own Brian O'Malley brings terror — in the intimidating form of Game of Thrones' Liam Cunningham — to a sleepy Scottish community with its simple yet effective story: a supernatural tale of reckoning, in which a few unlucky souls see their misdeeds finally catch up with them.

Like John Carpenter's cult-classic Assault on Precinct 13, the film's setting is a police station run by a skeleton staff, where a small group of (largely unsavory) individuals find themselves gathered (or detained) for the evening. Among them are a hit-and-run suspect, an abusive husband, a sadomasochist and a multiple murderer. And at the center of it all is Police Constable Rachel Heggie (Pollyanna McIntosh), who's about to have the worst first night on the job ever in the history of first nights on the job — thanks to a mysterious stranger (Cunningham) who arrives on-scene, wreaking havoc on the guilt-ridden minds of the precinct's population and causing them to violently turn on one another.

Ultimately, though, it's a case of style over substance. But that isn't necessarily bad. O'Malley plays to his strengths as a commercial director, filling the screen with visually arresting imagery, from the ominous slow-motion shots of thrashing waves and crows in mid-flight that herald the arrival of Cunningham's character (known only as Six, after the number above the jail cell he inhabits for most of the film) to a climactic scene of fiery carnage and mayhem. Meanwhile, composer Steve Lynch delivers a menacing electronic score that excels at creating atmosphere and elevating tension. The end result is a pic that genre diehards will fall in love with, but which filmgoers who feel less ardently about blood and gore will likely demand more from.






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