david j. moore chats with Pollyanna McIntosh, star of Let Us Prey…
The Scottish / Irish co-production Let Us Prey (out on DVD and Blu-ray May 26th in the U.S.) is a hardcore horror / action hybrid that pits the devil himself (played by Liam Cunningham from Game of Thrones)against a handful of sinful policemen and criminals, whose day of judgment is upon them. With only a single policewoman named Rachel (played by Pollyanna McIntosh from The Woman) without a guilty conscience to stand up to him, the devil will have a hell of a night reaping souls. Part homage to John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, and part occult thriller with heaping doses of blood and gore, Let Us Prey will appeal to fans of both horror and action, and the film’s star McIntosh takes time to discuss her role in the film here.
david j. moore: Rachel is a very physical role for you. By now, after The Woman, I’m sure you’re used to taking on demanding roles. The first time we see you in Let Us Prey, you wake up and start doing push-ups, and it only gets harder for your character from there.
Pollyanna McIntosh: It was a fun role to play. That first shot – I prepared for weeks for that tiny moment to make it seem like she does them every day. It was great fun to be running through fire … we had fire, we had water, and all sorts of different physical fight scenes. I felt very comfortable with everything because Brian is a great, collaborative director. The other actors were great fun to play with. We were all very conscious of each other’s safety, and whatnot. Rachel really does go through the ringer, and because of her past and this traumatic experience that she’s been through, she has a lot of fight in her, and I think it’s important that the action she goes through as a character that she begins to realize how strong she is. It’s kind of like a ball being pulled down under the water, you know, the further down you pull it, the higher it’s going to fly up. She’s got that kinetic energy, and she’s ready to go, and I think she surprises herself with it.
djm: Since The Woman, you’ve started delving a little bit into the horror genre, but with Let Us Prey, it’s like you’re seguing into the action genre. This film definitely feels like a hybrid. Is action your next move?
PM: Yeah, I was actually attached to an action movie. It was so great. I hope it gets made at some point. We got stalled, though, and hopefully we’ll get there with it. Right now, I’m in Baton Rouge, Louisiana shooting a television show for the Sundance Channel, which has James Purefoy and Christina Hendricks, and I have a very action-packed role in it. I’m actually physically bigger than I’ve ever been, very muscular, and you could call my character in it an avenging angel. It’s not sci-fi or horror in any way. There’s plenty of action, and I’m enjoying myself.
djm: Talk about Liam Cunningham, your co-star in Let Us Prey. He’s Hannibal Lecter to your Clarice Starling.
PM: I have my own ideas who Liam is playing. He’s the devil, but not in the way we perceive the devil to be. He’s out to do his job and he’s been doing it for centuries, and he’s a little bit bored with it, and he’s a little disappointed in the human race, but he sees something in Rachel, that she’s a survivor who has a survival instinct and that morality. He wants to have her as his companion. He’s seen by the human race as a bad guy, but he’s really only taking those who’ve sinned. He’s not interested if you haven’t. It was an interesting take on the devil character, and I thought Liam was wonderful. We both did a lot of collaboration on the script notes, and we honed it down a little bit so that it was a little more quiet and simmering than some of the pizazz and razzmatazz that it had originally. No offence to the writer, but it was just, you know … we all wanted to give people more of the unexpected when it came to the ending. Liam is just great fun to work with. He knows his shit. We had a real laugh.
djm: I was surprised with the ending of the film. I wasn’t expecting it. I don’t want to give too much away, but I suppose you guys left it open for more adventures.
PM: It’s kind of fun because people are saying that it’s clear that there will be a sequel. That’s gratifying. It’s a fun, ambiguous ending. You get to decide. It’s a choose your own adventure. It’s also an homage to Gone With the Wind, with that silhouette with the fire in the background. It felt really good. It’s actually the only time I saw our director – who is very confident and very calm – a bit nervous and uncomfortable. He put us through flame and water, and all sorts of action and blood and gore, but he felt most uncomfortable about having Liam and I kiss. (Laughing.) Liam and I were giggling like school kids. It was a fun scene to shoot.
djm: This was an incredibly intense film to watch. As a horror film, it goes all out with the gore and violence, and as an action film it’s pretty brutal. Usually, when I see a movie with the devil as a character, there tends to be a little bit of a smirk on his face, but even he was without a trace of humor in the film. Am I off base by saying the film didn’t have a sense of humor? Is it a Scottish thing? Is it just me?
PM: Oh my God, I totally disagree! There is so much humor in the movie! Yeah! It’s totally gallows humor! It’s very Scottish and very Irish! It’s daft humor. It’s full of dark, Scottish humor. There’s a line that goes, “I know you think we all live in a fucking biscuit tin here.” We had a screening where everyone pissed themselves laughing. And, yes, the Scottish are intense. We’re the underdogs, we’re the scrappy ones, we’re the poorer ones, so we have that dark gallows humor.
djm: Not speaking for Brian, your director, but what do you think might have been his influences for this film?
PM: As Brian says, he recognized that the script was similar to Assault on Precinct 13. He kind of went with that rather than denied it. He even went with the John Carpenter-styled music. Carpenter was a big influence on him. He knew that the genre fans would see and enjoy that. Somebody said they would like to call it Occult on Precinct 13. Brian also said that his favorite hero of all time is Ripley from Alien and Aliens . That was lovely for me because that’s the way I wanted Rachel to be. She didn’t want to be the hero, but she was, and she had to take on a lot of shit.
djm: How would you pitch Let Us Prey to someone who might be interested in seeing it?
PM: I would definitely let it play for what it is. It’s not for everybody. It’s a dark and bloody entertaining horror [movie] that hopefully will make you think a little, that will hopefully make you work a little. It’s bloody and fun. (Laughing.) I hope you go on the journey with these characters and I hope you have a lot of fun by the end of it.
Many thanks to Pollyanna McIntosh for taking the time for this interview.
Let Us Prey is available now on VOD and DVD.
david j. moore is a contributing writer to Fangoria, FilmFax, Lunchmeat and VideoScope Magazines. His book WORLD GONE WILD: A SURVIVOR’S GUIDE TO POST-APOCALYPTIC MOVIES was published last year.