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Let Us Prey

North American Premiere
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WINNER: Melies D’argent, Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival 2014

An understaffed police station, isolated far at the outskirts of a small town, becomes a fortress of horror when a mysterious stranger (Liam Cunningham) is locked into its basement holding cell. Said stranger is not from around those parts, to say the very least, and the other prisoners, a motley assortment of local outcasts, are intrigued. Conversations probe. Terrible secrets are revealed and the atmosphere of the station begins to shift into the darkest of nightmares. One by one, cop and criminal alike turn into brutal, face-ripping savages. The night will be long. And few if any will see morning.

Taking place entirely across a single star-crossed night of horror, this atmospheric and ultra-violent Irish chiller took home the esteemed Melies D’argent award when it made its world premiere at the Brussels Fantastic Film Festival this past March. It’s not difficult to see why. Stylishly staged with slow, creeping camera movements and startling eruptions of ferocity, LET US PREY unfolds like an especially sinister TWILIGHT ZONE episode crash-landed into hell. At its centre is a chamber of bravura performances. Pollyanna McIntosh, an adored regular on the Fantasia screen with her recent commanding leads in fest faves LOVE ETERNAL and THE WOMAN, absolutely shines as a no-nonsense cop, newly assigned to the town and working the station on her fateful first night. Liam Cunningham (DOG SOLDIERS, HARRY BROWN, GAME OF THRONES) is fantastic as ever, exuding calm, controlled menace and an intelligence that is merciless in its calculation.

Douglas Russell (A LONELY PLACE TO DIE, VALHALA RISING) turns in what is surely to be THE berserker performance of the year. Niall Greig Fulton (CLOUD ATLAS, THE ACID HOUSE — and senior programmer at the Edinburgh International Film Festival!) is amazing. Director Brian O’Malley is clearly a fan of early John Carpenter, the film’s glorious electronic score being a prime testament to that, alongside the namesake of a certain key character and several nods to ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, with which the entirety of LET US PREY could be likened to as a supernaturally charged updating of sorts. That’s a very good thing. Now, hands behind your back. Eyes forward. Go.

— Mitch Davis