Review by Sean Boelman
Independent horror has given a voice to some of the most exciting filmmakers of recent years, but it also results in some films that shoot for unreachable heights. Unfortunately, Pamela Moriarty’s A Deadly Legend strives to be more than a B-movie, but without the budget (or the talent) to pull it off, the result is something comically bad.
The movie follows a group of people involved with the demolition of a former summer camp site as they discover its dark history when they unintentionally release supernatural spirits and reignite a war between evil and whatever is worse. Yet despite having such a simple premise, this manages to be yet another needlessly convoluted horror flick.
One of the biggest issues with the film is that Eric Wolf’s script has far too much happening at once. There is a large ensemble with concurrent storylines, and there really is no reason that one or two of these couldn’t have been cut. Even at less than an hour and forty minutes in length, the movie still feels altogether too long.
Another issue with the film is that its characters aren’t particularly interesting. Since the narrative is so erratic in nature, it becomes difficult to keep up with who is who and why they are someone that deserves the audience’s sympathy. It’s entirely too overwhelming to be compelling, and too laughable to be scary.
Furthermore, the world-building of the movie is severely lacking. Wolf easily could have made up for some of the goofiness in the execution by giving the film more of a mythological grounding. Instead, viewers get half-baked ideas about spiritualism and the fight between good and evil, all of which are ideas that have been done before.
This is an unusual case, though, in that it does feature some recognizable character actors in the supporting cast, which makes it all the more baffling as to why the script is so excessively bad. Judd Hirsch, Corbin Bernsen, and Lori Petty all give memorable turns, if only because they seem to realize how bad the movie that they’re in actually is.
Of course, in terms of visuals, the movie is certainly very lackluster because of its low budget. The special effects are of a consistently low quality, as is the cinematography. For the most part, the film feels rather threadbare, even in regards to the set pieces that are intended to bring about the big scares.
A Deadly Legend is not an especially impressive horror movie, but it is entertaining in all of its absurd messiness. Unlikely to please anyone except for those looking for something so-bad-it’s-funny, this is one that most audiences should skip.
A Deadly Legend is now available on VOD.