Let Us Prey (2014)
By: Devon B. on March 24, 2016 | Comments
Monster Pictures | Region B | 2.35:1, 1080p| English DTS-HD MA 5.1 | 92 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Brian O'Malley
Starring: Liam Cunningham, Pollyanna McIntosh, Bryan Larkin, Douglas Russell
Screenplay: Fionna Watson and David Cairns
Country: Scotland, Ireland
Astute readers may have picked up from Let Us Prey's title that it has religious themes, and with its whole judgement angle the most obvious comparison is 1981's Xian horror film A Day of Judgement. Happily, Let Us Prey is roughly eight kajillion times better than that one, and that's just because it has Liam Cunningham in it. It gets incalculably better when other factors are considered. Whereas A Day of Judgement was a dull, preachy, and straightforward supernatural slasher that was probably commissioned by some church, Let Us Prey is an engaging, whatever the fuck the antonym of preachy is, and ambiguous supernatural horror film that will probably be burned in some churches.

The movie's about a cop, played by Pollyanna McIntosh, who's on her way to her first day of work at her new posting in a rural Scottish village. On the way in she witnesses a reckless driver hit Liam Cunningham, but before she can even reach the vehicle Cunningham disappears. She arrests the driver anyway, and asks her peers to try and locate Cunningham. They find him and bring him in, but when he joins the other prisoners at the gaol things get intense and everybody there finds themselves trapped in a violent day of reckoning.

I first saw Let Us Prey at an advanced screening in Melbourne organised by Monster Pictures, and a copy of the film on DVD or Blu-ray was included in the admission price. Before the screening there was a Q&A via Skype with director Brian O'Malley who told me, and I suppose the others in the crowd, that he'd cut his teeth directing commercials. I don't think I've ever used that as a selling point to recommend a movie before, but the commercial business clearly gave O'Malley the chops to put together a slick flick despite not having a lot of money. He's done such a good job squeezing the most production value he could out of the available funds that I wouldn't even have pegged the movie as low budget if he hadn't said it was. Aside from a few seconds of CG that didn't look fully composited, there's nothing of fault here in terms of how the movie looks. There are some clear indicators that there weren't unlimited resources, such as most of the movie taking place in the single location, but it's such an accomplished debut I'd be hard pressed to say anything about it other than it entirely transcends its budget restrictions.

In fact the only real fault the movie has is that it's a little too long. There wasn't any particular thing I can say should've been cut, so it's not that Let Us Prey goes off on unnecessary tangents, but tightening things by a few minutes would've helped the overall pacing. People who are more patient than I might get more out of the film's slow burn approach, and even those less patient like me should be tided over by Cunningham's smouldering presence. He brings a quiet menace to his roll, and O'Malley explained in the Q&A that the quiet was very much intentional. O'Malley had previously worked with Cunningham on a short where Cunningham showed he could convey a lot without dialogue, so O'Malley incorporated this minimalistic approach to their feature and it works exceptionally. Cunningham's cold and silent intensity dominates the film, but the other performers all do well, and I particularly liked the pithy humour that Douglas Russell brought to his Sarge character.

There was another Skype Q&A after the screening with star McIntosh, who said when she made enquiries about O'Malley before committing to working with him she was told he was the best feature director in Ireland who had yet to make a feature. Let Us Prey is incredibly accomplished for a first film, so that seemingly presumptuous statement appears to have been right.

The Disc
The Blu-ray image is clear and sharp and handled being projected on a movie screen with no problems, and on the home set up the detail was good whenever the set had enough light to fully capture everything, but there are a lot of dark scenes so no one should expect eye candy. The audio adds some subtle depth to the movie, like when the deeper voiced actors' lines reverberate in the claustrophobic location, and while I wouldn't call Let Us Prey action heavy, when bullets fly or cars screech the surrounds are used effectively. The disc includes a making of and trailers for Julia, Honeymoon, Starry Eyes, and Lost Soul. The trailer for Charlie's Farm also plays on start up. The making of runs about 11 minutes and gives a decent, if quick, overview of the film and how awesome Liam Cunningham is.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
From the visually striking opening right through to the somewhat enigmatic ending, Let Us Prey has plenty on offer. O'Malley says his next movie will hopefully be a ghost story that will attempt to capture the feel of the underground attack in An American Werewolf in London and extend it to feature length, so if we get lucky he'll soon be offering us even more.
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