Saturday, May 23, 2015

Let Us Prey Rots from Within (In Story) : A Movie Review

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*full disclosure: a Blu-ray screener of this film was provided by Anchor Bay Entertainment and Absolute Underground Magazine, for review.

**there are spoilers here.

Director: Brian O'Malley.

Writers: David Cairns and Fiona Watson.

Cast: Liam Cunningham, Pollyanna McIntosh, Bryan Larkin and Hanna Stanbridge.

Let Us Prey is a horror film from Ireland. Partially funded by the Irish Film Board, the filmmakers have described the film as Assault on Precinct 13, with the threat coming from within. That threat has been cast in fire and brimstone. The Devil is searching for souls and the Christian themes were yawntastic. All of the characters are morally vacuous. Instead of finding courage, they succumb to murder and cowardice. With no one to lead the film away from evil, the film offers no real strong, underlining message. Some tension is created by the antagonist, Six (Liam Cunningham). But, Let Us Prey devolves into a gory spectacle, only.

Small town police officer Rachel (Pollyanna McIntosh) is new on the job. While walking to her new work location, she witnesses a hit and run. Though, the victim manages to disappear in a figurative puff of smoke. At the precinct, Rachel's co-workers are dubious in nature. The sergeant is a gay serial killer. The other two use torture and murder to keep the local, mostly absent, townsfolk in line. Even Rachel is enticed into murder, when the Devil makes his appearance known.

The film shows strong influences from Assault on Precinct 13 (1976). The film's story stays focused on one setting, the police station. Much like the earlier film, this location is set upon by a malefactor. The sparse regiment of police officers are put to task by this threat, in both films. Though, as admitted in a behind-the-scenes featurette, the threat promises to rot the police station (and characters) from within, rather than from without. The Devil is introduced into the story via a Trojan Horse, by appearing to be the victim of a crime. In actuality, he is the force behind much of the terror. Both Assault on Precinct 13 and Let Us Prey take place over one dire night, in which evil promises to overwhelm the good.

Though, in Let Us Prey there is very little goodness present to fight back. Many of the characters are killers. The most noble, arguably the devil, is just a killer of killers. There is no one really to root for. Even the protagonist is too damaged, from previous abuse, to offer resistance. She is tempted to sin and vice (murder) and she cannot resist the Devil's influence. Other minor characters include: a hit and run killer, a family murderer, a wife beater and many others. All of the minor characters are corrupt, on some level. So, from central to minor characters, everyone is moving towards evil. Where is the heroism?

The film does manage to put forth some mystery. The Devil emerges from the ocean, with a murder of crows in tow. Why is he entering Inveree? And, why is he mute? It is only over time, with the introduction of the Devil's supernatural powers, that it becomes clear who the antagonist is. Satan even provides hints to his identity. When he speaks to Rachel he says: "we are both cast out." Where Rachel has been cast out of her community, the Devil has been cast out of Heaven. This fallen angel even enjoys fire. During one fiery scene he relishes the heat "I like the weather." Unfortunately, once the antagonist's identity is revealed, any of the mildly simmering tension is removed.

Let Us Prey sources a quality film, but it adds very little to the material. A few gory scenes might shock some viewers. But, violence and chaos are pointless, if there is no underlining, purposeful reason for it. As well, all of the characters are amoral and difficult to empathize with. They all get their just deserts. With the Devil winning and stealing everyone's souls, the film ends flatly. The heroine required more courage and strength to overcome those around her. As it is, the film plays out feebly. And, is there anyone out there who still believes in the power of the Devil?

Overall: 6.5 out of 10.

*final thought: the absence of other townsfolk suggests that the setting of the film is actually Hell.

A teaser trailer for the film is available here:

A Let Us Prey Teaser Trailer on 28DLA

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