“Now it’s a pale fuckin’ horse,” snarls Liam Cunningham’s nameless but most definitely sinister stranger, who drifts off storm-wracked cliffs and into a one horse Scottish town in the middle of the night, and straight into the cells of the local police station, where DI Rachel Heggie (Pollyanna McIntosh) is having a rough first night thanks to some snarky suspects and aggressively obnoxious colleagues.
If Rachel thinks that the cops and crooks here are bad, this stranger knows they are, and he’s going to make them pay. One by one, the men in the cells and the officers outside will be forced to confront their sins.
There’s not much by way of subtlety in Brian O’Malley’s Irish-made debut but it’s not short on style or menace. Let Us Prey nods heavily towards John Carpenter (never a tactic that’s never really led anyone too far astray), and it’s heavy on synths, limited locations and dread.
O’Malley’s confidence is quickly apparent and helps him to create a doom-laden atmosphere quickly and efficiently before unleashing the buckets of gore.
Cunningham is excellent (and is clearly having fun) as the man with a list and a fondness for oblique biblical references, and it’s great to see the Game Of Thrones and Dog Soldiers veteran in such a meaty role. So much of the film relies on his quiet menace and he absolutely delivers.
We’re also big fans of McIntosh (The Woman, Tales Of Halloween), and she puts in another very strong performance as the by-the-book rookie dealing with a town where everybody is so fantastically…unpleasant. It’s also worth noting good turns from Douglas Russell and Niall Grieg Fulton as the Sergeant and local doctor respectively, both of whom have their own fairy spectacular secrets.
The conclusion wobbles a bit and it pretty much does exactly what you expect it to, but this midnight movie packs a grim, nasty punch for those who like their chillers atmospheric, gory and unremittingly bleak.