Thursday, October 29, 2015

Let Us Prey


   Let Us Prey is a movie that for the most part just lets you make up your own mind about what happens, and boy... a lot of stuff happens. The movie is about a rookie cop's first night on the job in a small Scottish town where a mysterious man arrives, and appears to know something about everyone. I mean, that's about as much info as we can really grasp onto for 95% of the movie. It's not so much a horror movie as it is just... a gory movie, but it also doesn't really fit neatly into any other genre I can think of either. So, horror will just have to do. Anyhow, the movie is full of killers, scumbags, and generally just... really bad people. A big theme of the movie happens to be paying for your sins, or something. Well, there's no shortage of sin around these parts!

   Literally just about everyone in this movie is an asshole of varying proportions, most of those proportions quickly veer into outright homicidal territory. It was just weird. In fact, the rookie cop, Rachel Heggie, actually remarks at one point, "What is it with this fucking town?". The movie's over and I'm still asking myself that. It was a very interesting watch, although it was vague on any kind of explanation or details, it was still interesting. I found the movie bizarre but engaging. You end up really invested in what's going on, despite not having much to go on. I've seen small movies play out better than this before (i.e. Pontypool, Saw, but whatever) yet Let Us Prey is unique enough to get a hall pass.

   The mysterious man ends up making shit go crazy, and soon Heggie finds herself deep in over her head. The movie makes lots of references to her past, and specific events from almost every main character's history- it's suggested on numerous occasions that they're all in one spot for a reason. It's treated like a big mystery, but it's not really. All these guys are scumbags and are paying for their sins, old testament style- one by one. Heggie, the protagonist, is really the odd one out because we're not sure what her 'sin' is. Obviously, this is why she's the protagonist. It's thin, but the whole movie is thin. Whatever.

   The movie is... odd. It doesn't unfold in any conventional manner, and feels like it just keeps getting crazier and crazier. I feel like I was missing some sort of bigger picture or something, because there's just no way there's that many individually homicidal psychos in one town. I mean, what the actual hell? I can't decide if this is a flaw of the script, or if the movie was making a point about the town itself. Or maybe it was just the people? Who knows. I'm not sure even the writer did. Keeping things ambiguous can be an effective storytelling tool, but when overused can just feel like you're covering up a lack of story. That was kind of the case here.

   I can't fault the writer or the director though, their concept was limited and wouldn't have been much helped by any more explanation. As is, they just let things go wild, bloody and off the rails. As such, it's decent entertainment. It's well acted, and I don't feel like it was a waste of time. It was food for thought if anything, a really unconventional horror flick without a typical antagonist. Instead of one, you have many. It's really unique. I only just heard about it today, stumbled across it on Netflix, and watched it on an impulse. The actress playing Heggie, Pollyanna McIntosh, has an honest quality to her, and is rather cute in my opinion. She carried the movie on several occasions when everyone else was in full scenery chewing mode. I think she made a solid protagonist who knows about as much about what's going on as the audience does, which helps.

   All the other actors perform admirably with the material they have. The ones you're supposed to hate, you hate. The ones you're supposed to feel sorry for- you do. Heggie is really the only one you feel comfortable cheering for, and it's hard to pin down who or what the mysterious man is, but the familiar face and gravitas of Liam Cunningham doesn't hurt. He gets a lot of mileage out of the enigmatic stranger vibe, and I dug it. He and McIntosh really do carry the whole movie on their shoulders. But my hat's off to actor Douglas Russell for managing to be the scariest homicidal killer in a whole movie full of murderous creeps. He really took the cake in the climax.

  Anyways, the movie has an ominous end-of-the-world vibe to it and lots of religious-horror overtones, but no matter what conclusions you draw, the movie is crazy and bloody. If you're in the mood for something weird, give this one a shot. It might start off rather understated, but ends up flying off the rails in a rather spectacular way. It's a harmless bit of gory fluff with a respectable body count and lots of brutal killing. There's better stuff on Netflix, but if you're anything like me, you've probably seen it all already- so in that case I can give this one a moderate recommendation. I'd even buy it if it was bargain bin priced. Fun, but not great. Entertaining, but rather haphazard.

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