Brian O’Malley’s tale of good vs. evil shines under a gorgeously shot, hyper-violent light that finds evil in the darkest of places when a mysterious stranger takes over the minds and souls of everyone inside a remote police station. The film is swallowed in a pitch black atmosphere, driven to wonderfully insane bouts of violence under a blanket of blood, guts, and fire. Let Us Prey moves at a breakneck pace, delivering an often savage piece of horror cinema. In the film, Rachel, a rookie cop, sees her first nightshift in a neglected police station go to hell when a mysterious man shows up.
What you’ll notice almost immediately about O’Malley’s debut is just how wonderfully shot and gorgeous it all looks. He shoots the violence and grisliness with the poise and an eye of a director who has been doing this for a very long, making his feature debut all the more impressive. But perhaps what stands out the most, visually anyway, is in the way he presents the carnage; it’s very straight to the point and never lingers, giving us just enough of a look to leave an everlasting impression. Precise, hard-hitting violence goes a long way in a film soaked head to toe in mystery.
And that very mystery comes to life thanks to some fantastic work by Liam Cunningham—playing Six—who goes to work on the souls of those unlucky enough to cross his path. The film does a good job of keeping his character an enigmatic force, one that’s just as terrifying as he is intriguing. Exactly who (or what) he is largely a mystery throughout the entire film. Pollyanna McIntosh is, as always, a force here, representing the good surrounded by the bad. She’s the light of the film, shining bright in a story that’s surrounded by darkness and evil—her character creates a perfect contrast to Cunningham’s.
O’Malley smartly uses his evil-doing characters and the isolated setting of a police station to ramp up the tension, giving him plenty of leverage to pull on the strings of our nerves. And what makes his film so unique is that it essentially surrounds evil people with a man capable of things they could never dream of. There’s always something worse around the corner, especially when its revealed just how bad some of these people are, and that gives the film an appropriately sharp edge.
Its only real downfall is the in the final act, wasting such a strong build-up by coming and going in the blink of an eye. And in that rushed finale, the film leaves perhaps too much up for interpretation and creating more questions than it had answers for. It’s far from a deal-breaker, though, because Let Us Prey does get its point across in the end, despite making it a little more difficult than it had to be. Let Us Prey is a viciously good time, delivering a small film that manages to reach far beyond the bars of a jail cell.
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