This weekend, I saw Let Us Prey, a 2014 film by director Brian O’Malley (first feature film) and writers Fiona Watson and David Cairns (first feature). Starring Liam Cunningham (Titanic, Game of Thrones) as Six, Let Us Prey, is a blood-drenched story about the wages of sin. Currently, it is on Netflix.
As I watched this movie, I remembered Frailty.
Frailty is a 2002 American movie starring Bill Paxton (and oh, how he is missed) and Matthew McConaughey. In Frailty, Paxton played Meiks, a single father with two sons. Meiks has a list of names, given to him, he claims, by God. These people are demons, he assures his boys. He enlists his sons to help him as he kidnaps and kills, crossing names off his list. One son suffers doubts as seemingly innocent people are killed. Later, we discover that father knows best as the crimes of each “victim” are revealed.
In Let Us Prey,” “Six” (Liam Cunningham), like Meiks, has a battered notebook listing names of the guilty. Six will exact payment from those who murder and are cruel in the name of justice, self-hate and cowardice.
The film begins with the rolling waves of an angry sea.
Soon, we’re on a deserted highway leading to a small Scottish town where a woman wakes from a nightmare. After rising, she puts on a police uniform. Rachael Heggie (Pollyanna McIntosh—The Walking Dead) is the newest member of the town’s police force, which includes Sergeant Macready and officers Jennifer Mundie and Jack Warnock. It’s night as Heggie walks to work. The streets are deserted except for a man standing in the middle of the road. A car suddenly appears and hits him.
The unrepentant driver, a young punk named Caesar, stops, but there’s no trace of the victim. Heggie cuffs Caesar and delivers him to Sergeant Macready who greets Caesar with a punch to his insolent gut. Heggie radios Mundie and Warnock who are busy having sex in the squad car. She tells them to find the victim. When they don’t find him, they report back to the station. Caesar waits in a cell across from Mulvey, a schoolteacher arrested for beating his wife.
Unlike Frailty, there is no question of innocence in Six’s baleful stare.
Then the “victim” walks into the station. His name is Six he tells them. There are seven names in his book of to-dos for tonight. From his fingerprints, Macready and Heggie discover that Six is an old man who died years ago. They call in Dr. Hume to examine the victim. As the doctor takes a look at him, Six murmurs something. Hume gasps, saying, “You know!!” Hume attacks Six which results in Hume’s joining the teacher and the punk in the pokey.
The eerie tone of this movie, with its isolated streets and empty shops, reminded me of The Twilight Zone.
As the evening progresses, the sins of each character are revealed. With the flick of a match, Six calls each sinner to account. The guilty panic and turn on each other until only a crazed Macready and Heggie, the victim of a child predator, are left. Unlike The Twilight Zone, the violence is graphic and bloody, reflecting Six’s humorless character, whose disagreement with someone in power he tells them, landed him this gig.
His Old Testament stare is enough to make you think twice about leaving the cap off the toothpaste. Despite the violence, Heggie has kept to the moral high ground. So what’s her sin? “You’ve evolved,” Six explains after dispatching Macready to Hell. The others are new to Hell, he confides, and in for a rough ride. When it comes to Hell, Heggie is a frequent flyer and eligible for an upgrade. Six’s explanation was confusing; I thought we were in Old Testament territory, not Buddhist reincarnation land.
This highly stylized film practices what Six seeks to punish — gratuitous violence.
“I’m lonely,” Six tells Heggie; would she like to be his companion? He entices her with promises of raining hellfire on the worst of humanity. The thought of being on the God Squad, playing Hutch to Six’s Starsky makes Heggie smile. They kiss, and after all that blood and all those body parts, the kiss seemed a little out of place. Even so, I can think of worse things than an eternity with Liam Cunningham. But if I were Heggie, I’d remember to always put the cap back on the toothpaste.