Despite a promising opening and some interesting thematic concepts, Scottish horror Let Us Prey quickly goes off the rails veering into sloppy bog-standard genre territory.
Brian O’Malley’s feature sees the workings of a small Inveree police station flipped upside down when a mysterious figure (Liam Cunningham) arrives bringing madness and bloodshed with him.
The rich Gothic opening sees the a figure in a long cloak standing beside roaring waves and masses of shrieking crows. Initially reminiscent of Hitchcock’s The Birds, Let Us Prey is a film that wears its influences on its sleeve with hints of Assault on Precinct 13 and The Silence of the Lambs all suggested, yet sadly this is a film that pales in comparison to these features.
Initially there is something hugely intriguing about Let Us Prey – mostly Cunningham’s character, with the actor bringing an impressive gravitas to the part. Shrouded in great mystery we quickly discover that the figure is there to bring judgement to a group of morally corrupt individuals – from the wife-beating, car-stealing prisoners to the corrupt and sleazy cops. We see the stranger enter the darkest parts of these character’s psyches and cause chaos. However, this gradually gets somewhat repetitive and confusing as we delve into the troubling back-story behind every character.
Although there are some moments of well-executed tension, Let Us Prey is hampered by some cringe-inducing dialogue and stiff performances. Most of the dialogue is either made of half-hearted clichéd genre phrases like “I hate this town” when things go out of control, is generally toe-curling or alternatively is completely wrong for the characters (ie. most things said by young offending NED, Caesar).
There is some fun chaos in Let Us Prey‘s final moments as officers and prisoners battle for survival in a violent frenzy. The setting of a locked down prison also gives things a nasty, claustrophobic atmosphere and Polyanna McIntosh makes a likeable kick-ass action heroine.
Let Us Prey might be a hit for the easily-pleased horror fan, but casual viewers and genre fanatics will be put off by the lack of scares, hammy performances, and dodgy dialogue.
19th June, 22nd June 2014 (EIFF)
Liam Cunningham ,Pollyanna McIntosh, Sophie Stephanie Farmer, Niall Greig Fulton