Reviewed by Gareth Jones
Directed by Scott Stewart
Starring Paul Bettany, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Adrianne Palicki
Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment UK
When your initial theatrical viewing of something that seemed so, so promising in the run-up to release leaves you nearly as disappointed as a child bereft of gifts on Christmas morning, you just can’t help but think “maybe another viewing will help me appreciate it more”. For those in the UK disappointed by Scott Stewart’s Legion, that time has now come with the film’s DVD and Blu-ray release. Unfortunately, in the case of this particular angelic mess, further viewings do absolutely nothing do make it any more enjoyable, watchable or coherent.
Legion’s storyline involves a group of folks at a secluded desert gas station/diner named Paradise Falls (ho ho ho), who find themselves the targets of a demonic (sorry, angelic) invasion of the Earth. Meanwhile, the archangel Michael has come to Earth in human form – abandoning his wings and halo in the process – in order to protect these particular individuals from the onslaught of the possessed. Well, rather, he’s there to protect annoying trailer-trash-mommy-to-be Charlie (Palicki) and her unborn child. Exactly WHY the child needs to be protected is anyone’s guess, as it certainly isn’t explained nor makes any damn sense whatsoever. Is the child supposed to be an imminent Messiah? If so, why the fuck has God ordered his angels to not only murder it, but the whole human race as well? If the entire human race is to be slaughtered, why focus on this child at all? It’s just another piece of meat for the grinder as far as the bigger picture is concerned…isn’t it?
Nonsense is a recurring theme in Legion. It’s like an entire menagerie of ideas was simply thrown together because they either (a) sound cool or (b) look cool. Whether or not they work to form any kind of actually cohesive narrative is an afterthought. Witness Michael blowing a giant, flaming, cross-shaped hole in a wall for no other reason than visual symbolism! Angels possess weak-willed humans, turning them into misshapen, wall-crawling, shrieking, black-eyed, fang-toothed monstrosities that appear to come straight from hell itself and enjoy nothing more than tearing their human victims limb from limb. So much for our angelic protectors, eh? The reason for all of this (well, besides the unexplained – and perhaps unexplainable – motivation of killing Charlie’s unborn child) madness? “Maybe he’s just tired of all the bullshit”.
Seriously. Okay, now that’s not an altogether bad idea for a horror flick, but just wait until the final moments of the film. It sounds as though Michael has pretty much wrapped things up as far as God’s intentions are concerned…but no! Legion continues to segue into an absolutely dumbfounding ripoff of The Terminator’s final scene. In fact, the parallels with The Terminator are so strong initially that I almost expected the first words out of Michael’s mouth when he hit the diner to be “Come with me if you want to live”.
I realize that I can’t spend all night ripping apart the storyline of Legion (entire books could be written doing just that) so I’ll give the cast their kudos for performing strongly with what they had. There’s barely a weak link among them (well, maybe Dennis Quaid’s one-note angry father – and I usually love the Quaid), and it’s perhaps even to the film’s detriment that they all play so strongly…it simply adds to the overwhelming confusion that watching Legion blankets your mind with when a quality cast plays something so utterly ridiculous and devoid of thought or merit with such consummate seriousness. Did none of them read the script and think “Hey, you know what? This makes no fucking sense whatsoever!”? Maybe they were just shown a PowerPoint presentation of cool visuals and concepts and signed the dotted line before this afterbirth of a screenplay fell into their laps.
Most of Legion is actually pretty well directed as far as the visuals are concerned, though a lot of the later action scenes are ridiculously unwieldy with giant spinning metal wings taking to the fore and wire-fu angels clumsily leaping from surface to surface. The less demanding may find some exhilaration in the mano-a-mano battling, but most will have had more than enough of Legion’s idiotic uselessness by this point.
If this review feels like a stream-of-consciousness reaction to Legion, the truth is it partly is. I simply don’t have the will to, nor feel like the film deserves that I, take multiple attempts at putting quite everything I’d like to say together (unlike our beloved Foy, whose hard-thought review you can read here). In this case I’ll treat Legion with the same contempt it treated me and offer something that only verges on the coherent.
To add a pun to the proceedings, I’ll sum up my thoughts on this film in one sentence: For the love of God; just don’t do it.
Sitting through Legion is an absolutely hellish experience.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s release of Legion is extremely well presented. The picture is gorgeous with some stunning external desert shots and a nicely punchy soundtrack that makes the film sound a lot more exciting than it really is…definitely one to show off your system with. In terms of special features it’s also packaged with a number of behind-the-scenes featurettes, one of the most entertaining being a deconstruction of the demonic (sorry, I did it again – I mean angelic) old lady monster scene from the early stages of the film. Some picture-in-picture content is also a nice bonus and something I personally dig when it comes to Blu-ray extras. Some MovieIQ BD-Live content rounds it off.
None of it will make you appreciate the film any more, as nobody really appears to have a clue that what they’re creating makes no damn sense in the end, but I’m not going to unfairly knock what are some fairly decent extra offerings just because you’ll want to scream at the screen after seeing the film itself.
1 out of 5
3 out of 5
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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review
Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo
Directed by Colin Bemis
Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.
The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.
As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!
Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.
Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.
In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.
On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.
In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.
Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)
We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.
In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!
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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View
Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento
Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as
17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?
What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.
Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?
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