LET US PREY (UK/Ireland/18/92mins)
Directed by Brian O’Malley. Starring Liam Cunningham, Pollyanna McIntosh, Bryan Larkin, Hanna Stanbridge, Douglas Russell, Niall Greig Fulton, Jonathan Watson.
THE PLOT: It’s a gloomy night in deepest, darkest Scotland, and a hard rain is plainly about to fall. That it should fall on a smalltown cop shop makes for a convenient gathering of sinners and suckers, the arrival of a mysterious stranger (Cunningham, in full Man In Black mode) sparking off flashbacks for everyone there to their darkest hour. No one, not even the doctor called in to look after a convulsing prisoner, is safe, as each of their pasts comes back to not only haunt them but to cleverly finish each one of them off. The only soul that seems safe is new cop on the beat Rachel (McIntosh), and she soon finds herself having to go full Ripley to survive this night of fire and brimstone…
THE VERDICT: Bejiggers and bejapers, we Irish are getting awful good with our scary movies and super creeps. Must be something to do with the recession. Our inner demons are bursting out, LET US PREY following hot on the bloodied heels of Ivan Kavanagh’s recent offering, THE CANAL. The fact that there’s a generation of young Irish filmmakers more than happy to embrace genre filmmaking shows just how far we’ve come. There’s no need to struggle with our national identity, our troubled history, or the dark arts of growing up in a strict Catholic smalltown. The black magic on offer here is universal, and all the more enjoyable for it.
Cunningham – a long-time collaborator with director Brian O’Malley – must have had a lot of fun doing so very, very little here (thus making his slow-moving shark all the scarier), whilst McIntosh – she with the child-bearing lips and unfortunate CV entries, such as LAND OF THE LOST, BURKE AND HARE and FILTH – does a fine job channelling Sigourney Weaver’s most famous character.
A slow, tantalising assault on the senses, LET US PREY might slip into B-movie territory every now and then, but a little B-movie every now and then is good for the soul.
RATING: 4/5
Review by Paul Byrne

Let Us Prey
Review by Paul Byrne
4.0A tantalising assault
  • filmbuff2011

    Brian O’Malley made a startlingly effective short called Screwback in 2004 with actor Liam Cunningham. A mini-thriller in itself, it’s a shame that it’s taken him so long to make the jump to a feature-length film. But it’s been worth it, as Let Us Prey is a strong, highly effective horror. With a nod towards John Carpenter’s Assault On Precinct 13, tough policewoman Rachel (Pollyanna McIntosh) is assigned a new job at a station in the Scottish Highlands. The staff there, led by Sergeant MacReady (Douglas Russell) aren’t exactly welcoming and throw her in at the deep end. It’s going to be a long night, made even longer by the appearance, disappearance and then re-appearance of a mysterious stranger known only as Six (Cunningham). Locked up for vagrancy, he quietly sits in his cell and plays mind games with his captors and the other cellmates. Why does he know so much about them and the bad things they’ve done? As order breaks down in the police station, bodies start piling up and Rachel fights for survival against everyone except Six, who will be left alive at the end of this hellish night? Let Us Prey starts with immediate visual impact, as stormy waves reveal Six as if he was some otherworldly being. Maybe he is… It’s a role requiring restraint and Cunningham pulls it off with his customary intensity and sturdy presence. In another horror film, Six would be the avenger going around doing the killing. But here he’s more of a cypher for all the evil doings around him. At one point, he even says there’s no point in going to hell when the devils are all here. O’Malley knows his horror and goes hardcore (hardgore?) with the blood letting, making the tragically disappointing Insidious: Chapter 3 look like a children’s film. O’Malley favours a slow-burn rather than a burn-out, ratcheting up the tension to breaking point for one hell of a climax that is worth the price of admission alone. A Scottish-Irish co-production, Let Us Prey is a proper, full-blooded horror film that won’t disappoint gorehounds. ****