Monday, August 1, 2016

Game of Scones

There are few actors who can be the sole reason I check out a film. The sinfully underrated Pollyanna McIntosh is one of those few. 

You might know her as the silent Fifth Element-y assassin Angel in Hap and Leonard, or the standout businesswoman in the clever Exam. More likely, you’d spot her as the titular The Woman, a film that was all but made because McIntosh was so damn good in the otherwise passable dollar store version of Offspring. Even when she’s working with little (the bland The Blood Lands, for example) McIntosh brings it all, sort of like a Debbie Rochon but with much better results. 

Add in Davos Seaworth (or actor Liam Cunningham, whichever you prefer) and you can bet your haggis that I’m giving Let Us Prey a go. 

Quick Plot: Rachel Heggie (McIntosh) is starting her first night as constable in a small Scottish town. Her sergeant is a religious, misogynist prick, while her fellow two officers, Warnock and Mundie, are more concerned about their affair than enforcing the law. From a crime-safe perspective, Mayberry was in better shape. 

As soon as she clocks in, Heggie witnesses a drunken teenager named Caesar drive straight into a mysterious, possibly homeless man named Six (Cunningham) who all but disappears upon impact before being brought in by Mundie and Warnock. 

Six is locked up in a now-crowded jail cell with the punky Caesar, a wife beating schoolteacher, and the local doctor, who is called in to check on Six but soon joins him when he inexplicably tries to stab his patient. Sgt. MacReady leaves his young staff to take care of his own sinful matters, as Six reveals a certain kind of sensory power.

Six, you see, is something of an avenging angel, an ageless creature who can see one’s past crimes at the mere touch of a hand. Not surprisingly, all the assembled parties have some grisly skeletons in their closets. 

Directed by first timer Brian O’Malley, Let Us Prey is an incredibly pleasant surprise of a horror movie. As expected, McIntosh’s character is a believable badass, and her character has a rewarding, surprising arc. Once the story is established, the plot pretty much follows the beat you expect, but it does so in an intense, never dull fashion. I certainly could have used more of everything--more character development, more establishment of the town, more time for the sinners to show some layers--but hey, any film that makes you want a sequel is certainly a good thing.

High Points
It’s a tad heavy-handed, but the score and photography--particularly during the opening credits--are so darn dramatic that they send a pretty strong and effective sensory overload to keep the stakes high

Aforementioned glory that is Pollyanna McIntosh and Liam Cunningham

Low Points
It might have been nice to have a little more nuance to the rest of the characters, who mostly end up as stock jerks

Lessons Learned
A speaker implies. A listener infers

Never call a psychotic repressed Christian homosexual “old”

Even small towns keep a reliable supply of battering rams


Let Us Prey isn’t perfect, but it’s a solid, quick-paced little tale that I found to be highly enjoyable. The cast is obviously tops, and the photography is, at times, truly gorgeous. It will be exciting to see what else we get from Brian O’Malley. This one’s on Netflix Instant, so go for it.