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Creepy flick is set in 1920’s Ireland in an old mansion where twins Rachel (Charlotte Vega) and Edward (Bill Milner) preside alone after the suicide of their parents. There is something unnatural there with them, something that decrees that they must be in bed by midnight, never let in strangers and never leave the estate. But their trust fund has run out and Rachel starts to feel the desires of womanhood when handsome Sean (Eugene Simon) comes home from the war. Can Rachel escape the curse and her increasingly disturbed brother, or is there a worse fate in store for her?

Irish supernatural thriller is stylishly directed by Brian O’Malley (Let Us Prey) from a script by David Turpin. The film is loaded with atmosphere and is very creepy, especially when we get some last act details on what fate awaits the twins and some truths about their family’s past. It’s a methodically paced film and is more about the mood of dread and foreboding than physical horror, though there is a little bloodshed, too. On that level it works very well in giving us goosebumps as we watch Rachel try to escape this curse that claimed her parents and their parents and so on. If you are looking for body count or intense scares look elsewhere, as this is about a prevailing spookiness which director O’Malley provides. He has a really effective visual style and makes great use of the decrepit old house setting and some water based imagery for the supernatural elements. There is some really atmospheric cinematography by Richard Kendrick and an appropriately Gothic score credited to Stephen Shannon, Kevin Murphy and writer David Turpin. It’s a slow burn chiller, but if you go in expecting something more on a Crimson Peak level, it is very unsettling and spooky.

The cast was very effective as well. Charlotte Vega presents us with a sad young woman, who is determine not to share the fate of her parents and ancestors. She evokes the feeling of being trapped in an undeserved fate, yet also gives us the tinges of desire of a woman come of age. Bill Milner is very creepy as the deranged Edward. He embraces his cursed life completely and he can be very chilling as he tries to convince his twin to accept it, too. Rounding out the main cast is Eugene Simon as handsome WWI vet Sean. Sean is rejected by the townsfolk upon his return for fighting with the English. That combined with the loss of a leg, makes him a lonely and sympathetic character, who finds a kinship with Rachel aside from the physical attraction. It makes for an interesting triangle as Edward’s unnatural attachment to his sister evokes a growing jealousy.

This flick may not be for everyone, especially those looking for more visceral horror like in O’Malley’s Let Us Prey. It is a more Gothic thriller and thus relies on atmosphere and dark moods to tell it’s tale of supernatural horror. The performances help guide the tale of a family cursed and the director knows how to build tension and dread to go with his spooky visuals. Yes, it’s slow moving and with only a few moments of bloody action, but still a very disturbing and creepy film from Brian O’Malley.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 black birds.




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LET US PREY (2015)

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Irish made horror takes place in a small Scottish police station where newly assigned Constable Rachel Haggie (Pollyanna McIntosh) is starting her night with a bang. On her way to work she arrests a youth (Brian Vernel) for a hit and run where the victim mysteriously disappears. Once at the station, she finds the cells slowly filling up and some not so welcoming behavior from her fellow and commanding officers. Things get even more tense as the mysterious stranger from the hit and run (Liam Cunningham) arrives at the station and appears to have intimate knowledge of everyone’s darkest secrets. Now, as the evening crawls toward the midnight hour, a reckoning comes to this place and there is bloody hell to pay…literally.

As directed by Brian O’Malley this is a spooky, intense and, sometimes, brutally violent horror/thriller about bad people getting what’s coming to them. We know from the moment we see Cunningham’s “Six” (so named for the cell he’s put in, as he has the fingerprints of a deadman) apparently rise from the sea, that a man followed by blackbirds, and with a little black book of names, is not here on vacation. We’ve seen David Cairns’ and Fiona Watson’s story before, from Twilight Zone episodes to High Plains Drifter, but it’s the way O’Malley tells the story, though, with stark visuals and a brooding atmosphere, that makes it work very well, despite the familiar story of the lone stranger coming to exact otherworldly justice. “Six” gets into peoples heads and we get to see the dark deeds of both cop and detainee alike and soon the walls of the small police station are spattered in blood and there may be no one left to tell what has happened in the backwater town. Sure, it gets a little borderline over-the-top in the last act, but O’Malley keeps it intense and fast moving and keeps the blood and gore flowing and thus, keeps us fairly riveted till his dark tale is over. The last scene does oversell, with some talky dialogue, what we’ve already figured out, but after a tense and spooky 90 minutes we can cut the filmmakers some slack. There is also some lush and atmospheric cinematography by Piers Mc Grail and a very moody and appropriately spooky score by Steve Lynch to add to the film’s overall effectiveness.

As for O’Malley’s cast…Game Of Thrones and Dog Soldiers vet Cunningham cuts a dark and mysterious figure. His “Six” has a quite intensity and a calm demeanor that makes him far more effective than had he played it over-the-top. McIntosh is a strong heroine and while we do guess where things are headed for her, she’s still a solid character to get behind. In support there is Douglas Russell as the station Sergeant with his own hidden sins. We have Hanna Stanbridge and Bryan Larkin as two officers who are having an affair with each other and with abusing suspects. Brian Vernal, Niall Greig Fulton and Jonathan Watson round out, as the cell occupants who may have committed far darker crimes than the officers realize. A solid cast that makes things work well.

I liked this movie. It was intense and bloody and kept moving at a quick enough pace to keep one from thinking too much about the familiar story. There was a spooky score and some great visuals to assist with the film’s atmosphere. Sure, we’ve seen the whole avenging dark angel thing in countless other films, but the film knows it and doesn’t insult us by trying to pretend we haven’t. It’s not perfect. We can easily figure out what’s coming, but there are still some surprises and some effectively shocking moments to keep things darkly afloat. An entertaining and chilling Irish horror that shows director O’Malley has some skills worth keeping an eye on.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) blackbirds.

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