There are few things I like more than a nice satanic film on a Sunday night, especially one where the fallen angel in question is an actor I like (and er, fancy) and especially when it ends exactly the way I wanted it to 👏
Let Us Prey has been on my Netflix peripheral vision for a while - mainly for the striking cover art of a hanged little girl.
Starring Liam Cunningham and Pollyanna McIntosh (she's currently the cool leader of that new group in The Walking Dead) this is one of those films I immediately got a strong sense of "YES" about, due to the opening sequence of crashing dark waves, crows and desolate suburbia all to the beat of a nice thick electro score.
This is more end than opening credits, but it's also a gem of a tune. Slow, drowsy and dark:
The plot takes place over three hours, from around 9pm to midnight, and largely in one location: a small police station in Scotland. PC Rachel Heggie (McIntosh) has her first shift tonight, and it's going to take her places she has tried her whole life to forget.
Rachel is a survivor and fairly obviously the final girl - though not all that sympathetic a character, for the most part. She's hard and tough because she's had to be.
Also all of her new coworkers are twats.
Bonus points also, for this:
Several scenes were rewritten at McIntosh's behest. She saw her character as strong and did not want Heggie to be viewed as a victim or in a sexualised way. The filmmakers were also careful not depict Heggie's background of abuse exploitatively. (from Wiki)
To be honest, no one is particularly likeable in this film, apart from maybe "6" (Cunningham), who, shortly after he's brought into the building, begins to expose everyone's sins via telepathy and grim flashback. Death and impressive gore flows steadily, once it's introduced, with demises ranging from the absurd to the marvelous... until only the new girl remains.
And man, is there a high concentration of crazy in this place! Douglas Russell is immediately repulsive as a self-hating gay/psychotically christian Dahmer-like chap, keeping severed heads in his 'fridge and oh, one more thing: he's the police sergeant.
With a climax that initially feels too bombastic for such a low-key film, it soon comes into focus why the police station needs to be engulfed in flame. To have "6" and Rachel standing toe-to-toe on the front steps as the building burns behind them is such a great image, especially knowing at this point who "6" he is.
He doesn't just want to save Rachel, he wants to make her his partner in vengeance and soul collection of those condemned to Hell. He is offering her a life punishing those who deserve it, with him by her side.
Call me a heathen, but I found this so romantic and beautiful ❤ She's a final girl who survives the horror film, but chooses to turn her back on the light.
With a basic concept we've heard a million times before - the old "underestimated newcomer slowly infects the minds and souls of a group of people" - this film could have easily been something unremarkable. But the atmosphere, gore and that twisted kind of romance at the end elevate it to something that really stuck in my mind.
Not a bad way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday night.
(I'll be in my bunk).