THE LEGEND OF LUCY KEYES. 2006. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY JOHN STIMPSON. STARRING JULIE DELPY, JUSTIN THEROUX, BROOKE ADAMS, CASSIDY HINKLE AND MARK BOONE JUNIOR. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
There’s a lot of really complimentary stuff about this film written on the side of the DVD box, but for once I’m going to have to disagree with it. I enjoyed the film well enough and I found it mildly entertaining, but I did not think it was ‘a spectacularly well-crafted film’ and neither did I find it to be ‘downright creepy,’ much as I wanted it to be. It didn’t ‘bring out my goosebumps’ either, I’m sorry to say. My apologies to all the lovely people who wrote these kind statements. I kind of feel like I’m making a mockery of all their hard work, haha.
I love films like this normally. You know, films based in New England, home to the infamous Salem Witch Trials of centuries ago. I love ’em whether they’re based in olden days (like THE WITCH, a terrific horror film in cinemas recently) or in modern times (like THE INHABITANTS, another great horror film by the Brothers Rasmussen which came out late 2015. They asked me to review that one personally, boast boast…!)
They’re often about ghostly goings-on in haunted houses or towns which, coupled with the fantastically sinister scenery for which the area is legendary, can send the shivers right up and down the viewer’s spine. I really wanted to love THE LEGEND OF LUCY KEYES, but I’m afraid the only shivers I got while viewing it were caused by the draught from the sitting-room door. I know I’m not usually this catty, so you’ll have to put it down to my bitter disappointment. Or my womanly hormones, haha.
It’s certainly got all the right ingredients for a good old chiller. Nice normal family move into a New England house with a colourful past, check. Miles and miles of spooky, atmospheric woods surrounding the house, check. Crazy, unwelcoming neighbours warning the family to get out of town, check. A nice scary legend (a lost child and a mother half-crazed with grief searching for her offspring day and night) to provide a reason for the haunting. Check too. It’s even ‘Based On A True Story,’ which is usually good for a proper old fright-fest.
Somewhere along the line, however, the film loses its way. It’s not scary at all, for one thing. I’m afraid that the few special effects it has are not very good. Despite the wonderful setting, it’s woefully short on a good atmosphere. The family are not terribly likeable either. Dad is just useless, really, shrugging his shoulders and standing by while Mom becomes more and more hysterical about the legend of the missing child and the ghostly, ever-seeking mother.
Mom is very wishy-washy. Beautiful and blonde she may be, but she’s the kind of horror movie mom who spends most of her time moping around the town library mooching through old newspaper cuttings and old yellowed books trying to find out why her house is haunted. If she paid half as much attention to her kids as she does to the library microfiche, they wouldn’t be tumbling out of lofts and breaking their bones or hiding in cupboards belonging to the Crazy Old Pig-man, there, I’ve said it.
The story is weak in places and confusing in others. The wind turbine story and the land deal story interested me not at all, I’m afraid. I liked Dad’s business partner Samantha, at least she had chutzpah. The little girl Lucy is as cute as a button and genuinely adorable. Her gorgeous bedroom furnishings and the lilacs and blues contained therein had me ooh-ing and aah-ing all through the film. The forgotten child, Molly, to whom her parents seem to pay zero attention… Well, I’m afraid I’ve forgotten her. Just like her Maw and Paw…!
Naturally, the film is chock-a-block with dazzling shots of what surely has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. You can’t fault these images. I recently bought an old hardback book called NEW ENGLAND WILDS (from THE AMERICAN WILDERNESS/TIME LIFE BOOKS series) which is filled with pictures of some of the stunning scenery there. I know you can look at endless pictures online nowadays but ‘Egg-head loves her booky-wook!, as Homer Simpson might say.
This is a perfectly entertaining film if you’re not expecting too much from it. It’s not scary at all, though, and it lacks the chilling atmosphere of other horror films set in New England. Also, as I said, the script is weak and lacks punch and cohesion. I think that’s about it. What’s that…? Yes, as it happens it is the ‘wrong time of the month,’ why ever do you ask…?
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
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