Let Us Prey
Liam Cunningham and Pollyanna McIntosh star in Brian O'Malley's intriguing horror debut
Game of Thrones seems to employ nearly every available actor in the UK so it’s hard to avoid cast members when it comes to British films. This Scottish production features Liam Cunningham as a mysterious stranger who insinuates himself into a local village police station. Locked in a cell alongside the night's other offenders he has an inexplicable power over the guilty. He induces visions of their darkest secrets compelling them to violence. Pollyanna McIntosh is the tough cop new on the beat with her own hidden past. As the clock edges towards midnight, chaos and bloodshed erupt.
Opening with stunning cliffs and a whirlwind of crows, Let Us Prey pitches Cunningham (named only as Six in the credits) as a malignant force bearing down on civilisation. It's a perfect contrast to the oppressive nature of small town life were darkness lurks under the surface. Amongst the assorted inmates Jonathan Watson (Naked Video/Only An Excuse?) plays against type as a creepy serial wife beater but it's the police officers who are perhaps the most malicious and unhinged once the floodgates are opened. Six's influence permeates all who encounter him as they start to uncover the truth and turn on one another.
McIntosh puts in a solid performance as stoic PC Rachel Heggie though it couldn't top her powerful role in 2011's The Woman. Cunningham is suitably sinister and shadowy, spouting Bible quotes as he manipulates the others. Debut director Brian O'Malley has crafted an intriguing horror flick that, aside from a few cheap scares, attempts to avoid tired clichés. Cinematographer Piers McGrail keeps the shots, tight, closed and claustrophobic which emphasises the tensions. The opening act is the strongest, the serious mood and religious overtones giving way to hysteria as the claret flows for the apocalyptic finale.
Screening at Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Sat 28 Jun as part of Edinburgh International Film Festival 2014.