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Let Us Prey (2014)
Dark Sky Films
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/26/2015
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/26/2015
Here are the facts: John Carpenter hasn't directed a movie since 2010. Before that, he went nine years between films. And, he arguably hasn't made a truly good movie since 1987. But, that doesn't mean that we haven't been getting "John Carpenter" movies. The Carpenter remake trend began in 2005 with The Fog (abysmal) and Assault on Precinct 13 and it's continued to today. In addition, we're now getting a spate of movies which are clearly tributes to Carpenter. Films likeThe Guest and The Purge: Anarchy mimic the look and feel of Carpenter's movies, as well as the music. Of course, the problem is that these are pale imitations which don't live up to Carpenter's best work. Now, Let Us Prey joins the club. How does it measure up?
Constable Rachel Heggie (Pollyanna McIntosh) has come to a small, Scottish town to begin her new job in the police station. On the way to work, she witnesses a car hit a man (Liam Cunningham). She hauls in the driver, Caesar (Brian Vernel), but the victim has disappeared. Upon arriving at the station, Rachel meets Sergeant MacReady (Douglas Russell), and puts Caesar in a cell. The other officers, Jack Warnock (Bryan Larkin) and Jennifer Mundie (Hannah Stanbridge), soon arrive, and the car-wreck victim suddenly appears as well. The town doctor, Hume (Niall Greig Fulton), comes to examine the man, and this is where things get weird. Everyone in the station begins to have flashbacks from their past, and a sort of bloodlust settles in on the inhabitants of the precinct. Heggie is the only one who remains level-headed and she realizes that she can't trust anyone.
Let Us Prey opens with music which sounds as if it were taken directly from Escape From New York. We then move into a story which is not a siege movie like Assault on Precinct 13, but is very similar, as it deals with a small group of people who are in a police station and who must fight for their lives. Either of those two things alone may have been a coincidence, and even together we can't assume that Director Brian O'Malley, who is making his feature film debut here, was going for a Carpenter vibe...but it seems pretty evident.
But, hey, you know what they say -- If you're going to steal, steal from the best. And, the fact that Let Us Prey nods to Carpenter isn't necessarily a bad thing. The movie opens with promise. We are introduced to the town just as Rachel is, and the car accident immediately sets things into motion. If she had gone to the station and then something had happened, the first act could have moved very slowly. We then meet the other players, and the movie wisely keeps the number of characters very low. The film keeps us in the dark about the strange man and the third act offers some much-needed action.
The problem with Let Us Prey is that the minimalist story which kicks off the movie soon segues into a story which is too vague for its own good. The characters begin to have their visions and we soon learn that a series of murders have taken place in the town. And this is where the questions begin. Did the presence of the stranger cause people to be murderers? Is he in the town because murderers live there? The former is hinted at, but we never learn for sure. We also see that the town is deserted. Is that because everyone is dead? We eventually (sort of) learn who the stranger is, but that is underwritten and comes across more as lazy than as clever.
The Brits have made horror movies for decades, with Hammer being the gold standard, and this tradition continues to this day. We've seen recent examples likeFrom the Dark, The Quiet Ones, and Grabbers, and these run from impressive to awful. Let Us Prey falls somewhere in the middle. The movie isn't a disaster, and while the second half offers some action, it doesn't live up to the intrigue created by the opening. The story in the police station is OK, but as I couldn't stop wondering what was happening in the town, the movie was clearly doing something wrong.
Let Us Prey throws around the term "Constable" like we know what it means on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Dark Sky Films. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. The image is sharp, but there is a noticeable amount of grain on the image. As the entire story takes place at night, the movie is dark, but it's never overly dark and the action is always visible. The colors look fine, although we don't get many bright tones here. The depth is notable, and the level of detail is good. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo and surround effects are noticeably good during the flashback sequences, as the sounds move around the room, offering some detailed audio. The subwoofer joins in with these scenes as well, creating an effective soundscape.
The Let Us Prey Blu-ray Disc contains only two extras. "Making Of" (11 minutes) offers comments from Director Brian O'Malley and the cast who talk about the film's plot and themes, as well as the production. There are also a lot of clips from the movie here. The only other extra on the Disc is a TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long