A raven soars across the ocean, skimming the raging waves as it flies towards a coastal Scottish town. As the bird disappears behind a rage of stormy weather, the enigmatic Six (Liam Cunningham) emerges on the land.
He cast a dark, silent figure in his long raincoat as he surveys his sleepy environs.
Not too far away, Rachel (Pollyanna McIntosh) dresses into her police uniform at home and prepares herself for the first day in her new job. A short walk later, and she signs in for work at the local police station.
At first, Rachel's greatest concern seems to be winning round her unfriendly new colleagues. These include the station's sergeant, loose cannon MacReady (Douglas Russell), and bitchy constable Jennifer (Hanna Stanbridge). All that changes over the course of the night...
It's not long, you see, before Six is knocked over by drunken driver Caesar (Brian Vernel). Rachel brings Caesar in for the night, despite his victim having done a vanishing act. Pretty soon, however, Six turns up at the police station door. Insisting he requires medical attention, Rachel summons local doctor Duncan (Niall Greig Fulton) - who, if anything, is just as unhinged as MacReady...
Factor in a wife-beating prisoner and horny male constable Jack (Bryan Larkin), and Six has exactly the kind of captive audience he needs for an evening of good, gooey fun. It begins proper when he starts playing with his company's individuals minds, probing each one's conscience to reveal their own violent backgrounds - shown in flashbacks - in what is a prelude to his doling out of what he considers appropriate punishments for their sins ...
Following on from a couple of shorts in recent years, LET US PREY marks Brian O'Malley's feature directorial debut. He acquits himself quite well, exhibiting a keen eye for luscious cinematic-style visuals (it was actually shot on the Red Epic HD camera) and a good control over pacing. He's not shy of delivering on the gore during the film's later stages, and elicits strong performances from the bulk of his cast.
The screenplay, by David Cairns and Fiona Watson, betrays the pair's background in writing for TV: short, snappy scenes, dialogue of a signposting expositional nature, broadly written characters ... But it works insofar as it helps propel the action and keep events flab-free. The moral angle is interesting (though, while wishing to avoid spoilers, is highly derivative of several recent films) and the setting draws obvious comparisons to the Western genre - indeed, HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER can be seen as one of many reference points ...
Cunningham, known to genre fans for THE CARD PLAYER and hipsters for GAME OF THRONES, has good presence as the sinister stranger. His mystique is well built-upon, and his brooding expressions serve the purpose without being overplayed. McIntosh impresses too, her role here being a million miles away from her breakthrough feral performance in THE WOMAN. Support is generally good.
As mentioned above, one of the real stars of the show is Piers McGrail's striking widescreen cinematography. Warm, epic in feel and never anything less than attractive, it becomes one of the film's major assets.
Fans of gore aren't going to feel short-changed either. O'Malley brings on the red stuff with satisfying brutality, as people are righteously beaten, shot and stabbed. Thankfully the majority of the gory action appears to be of the practical variety - which is a relief, because the low-budget attempts at CGI (the opening raven shots, for example) are less than convincing.
A fun, fast-paced yarn that ultimately boils down to a tale of good-versus-evil, LET US PREY earns extra points for its allusions to the early cinema of John Carpenter (the setting is a riff on ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13; Steve Lynch's electronic score is clearly indebted to the great man's more iconic works).
Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment's DVD presents LET US PREY uncut and in its original 2.35:1 ratio. The image is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. From the start, it's a great presentation. Colours are natural and strong; blacks are deep; detail is incredibly defined. It's about as good as it gets for standard definition, in fact. The only downside to such clarity, of course, is that the CGI has nowhere to hide.
English 2.0 audio is reliably clean and clear throughout.
An animated main menu page lures the viewer in. A static scene selection menu proffers access to the film via 12 chapters.
Bonus features are restricted to the film's original 2-minute trailer, along with previews for THE CANAL and UNCONSCIOUS. The disc defaults to open up with the latter two trailers.
LET US PREY has its flaws - chiefly its lack of originality and some unfortunately crappy CGI - but still emerges as an entertaining, bloody proposition that's not without its fair share of class. Cunningham and McIntosh add value for money, while the gore will sate those who see through the plot's ham-fisted religious leanings.
It looks great on Kaleidoscope's DVD.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Kaleidoscope|
|see main review|