We here at Screen Relish love a good horror movie. So much so, we’ve decided every Saturday to bring you a retrospective look back at perhaps some of those genre entries that have been underrated, unfairly forgotten, missed and abandoned or just so damn good that we needed to scream it from the rooftops. Today’s title is…
Let Us Prey (2014)
I love Pollyanna McIntosh. If you don’t, you aren’t watching the right movies. Rectify that situation immediately by taking in the fire-and-brimstone blood sport that is LET US PREY.
Hard core horror fans know McIntosh from her terrifying turn in Lucky McKee’s 2011 gem THE WOMAN. She sears right through the screen while uttering little more than a few grunts.
In David O’Mally’s LET US PREY, we find that she can, indeed, speak. As Constable Rachel Heggie, she’s a capable, honest cop sent back to her hometown precinct. It’s her first night on the job and things refuse to run smoothly.
The staff at her new precinct is aggressively unappealing and the tiny station’s cells are filling up – some regulars, some newcomers, and one mysterious stranger (Liam Cunningham).
The film has the feel of John Carpenter’s ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13. All but a handful of scenes take place within the walls of the precinct, as the stranger in Cell 6 seems to know something, and whatever it is he knows is driving the rest of the station’s population a little mad.
O’Mally loses some momentum and releases that claustrophobic dread whenever he takes us out of those confines. Back inside, the blood spattered domino effect definitely gets out of hand by the end. Everybody has a secret and what they’re willing to do when that’s exposed is always interesting, although the sheer number of skeletons in the closets of this tiny Scottish town does seem a little ludicrous. But the director’s even hand and his actors’ understatement in early scenes offsets the lunacy, grounds it.
Credit both Cunningham and McIntosh for keeping the proceedings interesting and even believable – a feat, given the supernatural and messy events transpiring. Fine supporting work from Douglas Russell and Hanna Stanbridge, in particular, keep the focus on the moral complexity that drives this murky vengeance fable.
The whole film plays wickedly with some blasphemous ideas, which creates layers beneath the simple bloody comeuppance you see on the surface. Cunningham’s weariness serves the larger purpose beautifully, and McIntosh’s finely nuanced performance ensures that the conclusion comes as a surprise.