Director – Brian O’Malley
Cast – Liam Cunningham, Pollyanna McIntosh, Bryan Larkin, Hanna Stanbridge, Douglas Russell, Niall Greig Fulton, Jonathan Watson, Brian Vernel
Release Year – 2015
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Let Us Prey is the debut feature length horror film for Irish filmmaker Brian O’Malley. In this effort he blends some of the genre’s typical clichés into a wildly well-executed experience heavy in brutal violence. What the flick lacks in story it makes up for in terror, delivering a final product that results in one of Ireland’s best horror films of 2015.
It’s Rachel’s first day on the job as a cop, and her first day is far from typical. When a mysterious stranger is arrested the police force undergoes a series of unexplainable occurrences. Little do they know, the man they were looking for was actually looking for them, and with him comes judgement day.
We’ve seen it numerous times before. A stranger appears in a small town and weird things occur. The film’s writers, Fiona Watson and David Cairns take this concept and expands on it by giving us the opposite of what would we would expect. He does this by using the stranger, deemed Six (Liam Cunningham; Game of Thrones), to lay judgment on those who have sinned and are no longer fit to live on our Earth. That includes everyone in the precinct, from the prisoners to the police officers themselves. Typically, we view officers of the law as good people who live clean lives. We are lead to believe that at first, but Six makes it apparent to them that he is aware of their unholy transgressions…and they are going to pay for what they have done. In a sense this is similar to the Jigsaw idea used in the Saw films, where the “victims” have a chance at redemption. What unfolds when the dark comes to light is one of the better second and third acts of horror I have seen this year. The kills are brutal, the paranoia reigns high, and Six is unrelenting in his judgment. As the runtime builds the horror grows insidiously, constantly upping the ante as each character’s sins are revealed. They all react differently to this situation, with some dealing with the situation passively and others in extremely violent fashion. It all builds up to a satisfying climax and leaves the viewer glad they aren’t faced with a similar situation…yet.
O’Malley’s direction is what makes up for whatever negatives the story has. At times I did feel like I wanted the film to move a bit faster, and every time I was treated to something visually appealing – usually someone dying. His execution is full-frontal and little is left to the imagination. Live-gore is employed and anything/everything is a weapon used to maim someone. The acting performances are great, with Liam Cunningham serving as the solid veteran while Douglas Russell delivers the most extreme of performances as Sgt. MacReady. His character goes through the biggest transformation and Russell excelled at adapting to his character expanding his ability to lose his shit. In fact, it looked as if Russell loved it.
Overall, Let Us Prey is a solid Irish horror flick that excels thanks to great execution. The story will appeal to some, and the horror should appeal to everyone.