Ladies and gentlemen, we may have just witnessed a new standard being set.
I've always found religious-themed horror films fascinating. I've often asked what makes movies like THE OMEGA CODE and MEGIDDO "Christian" movies and entries in the OMEN series "horror" movies (the answer would apparently lie in their level of explicitness, as they take their Scriptures equally literally. Say what you will, but they had the courage of their convictions). And the use of on-screen "angels" is always interesting... I could name far too many "guardian angel" comedies inspired by IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE and its ilk, but again I'd like to focus on horror movies--particularly those that invoke such well-known angelic names as Michael (but not like in the John Travolta movie) and Gabriel. The PROPHECY series (formerly GOD'S ARMY) with Christopher Walken was especially well thought out and provocative, and I must say I enjoyed the use of the angels in CONSTANTINE, as well. And yet the most subtle and underrated use of angels in the genre I would say could be found in BLESS THE CHILD (the little old lady who held the subway car door open--was she really there, or was she...?).
But I confess that I am STILL trying to figure out what the hell was happening in LEGION. This has got to be the most screwed-up, theologically chaotic, dunderheaded mess of a theological horror film I've ever seen.
Let's see if we can follow this. The first time God lost patience with mankind, he sent the flood. Well, now he's sick of us again and (even though he promised Noah that he'd never attempt to destroy the earth again) this time he's sending the angels to exterminate us.
But there's one special child about to be born who can lead the human race back into the light of redemption. Angel Michael is given the specific assignment of killing that child so that it doesn't happen. But Michael doesn't want to obey this order. So he cuts off his own wings and loads up on automatic weapons on Earth, heading for the isolated diner where he knows the child is about to be born. Oh, I almost forgot... he blows a cross-shaped hole in the wall as he exits the armory to hit the city streets.
Now, the exterminating angels (apologies to Luis Bunuel) apparently have physical bodies and can form impressive "swarms" in the sky, but their modus operandi on Earth is to possess the bodies of the weak-willed and have them do their dirty work for them. Apparently, everybody holed up in the diner is "non-possessable" for some reason. And Michael gives them tons of automatic weapons to help fend the angels (read: zombies) off until the baby gets a chance to live.
You've never seen such a bunch of walking, talking cliches in your life. Good actors, yes, but not up to the task of making the hackneyed dialogue and situations resemble anything fresh. There's Charles S. Dutton as a preacher, and the first thing I asked was "When does he get to sacrifice himself nobly like he did in MIMIC?" Tyrese Gibson is the "out of towner" eyed with suspicion by everybody. Naturally, he's compassionate and articulate, but he's also introduced with thumping rap music and he carries a gun. And good old Dennis Quaid is the bitter old man whose dreams didn't come true and who doesn't want his son to make the same mistake... oh, to hell with it.
"So why do you still carry that fancy lighter?" REMEMBER THAT. "Good thing the gas is still working!" REMEMBER THAT.
You've already seen the "little old lady' scene and the "ice cream man" scene about a trillion times apiece thanks to the ads, right? No surprises here except for the would-be-clever conceit of having the nice little old lady use lots and lots of swear words, too.
Eventually, the tricky zombie/angels reduce the cast to a few "essentials," so it's time to break out the reinforcements. As in Gabriel. But apparently, even ANGELS can be fought with conventional weapons. So there's martial arts, chattering guns and some sort of rotating "mace" device that Gabriel tries to knock Michael's head off with...
Okay, what is going ON here? What makes this child so special? If it's some sort of "second coming" deal that God knows about, why would he want to kill it? And if that's how he felt, why couldn't he just smite it via remote control like he did in the Bible (ask King David about that one)? If it's the "chosen one," who CHOSE it?
I'll tell you who chose it... James Cameron! Ladies and gentlemen, LEGION has nothing to do with theology and EVERYTHING to do with being a bald-faced TERMINATOR ripoff. The mother EVEN WEARS A FREAKING SARAH CONNOR HEADBAND BY THE END OF THE FILM just in case you don't GET IT! That's why angels fight with automatic weapons! That's why there's vehicular violence! That's why characters bow out with clever catchphrases! That's why Gabriel runs and screams before something blows up real good next to him! That's why this is the only movie in the history of religion in which somebody gets to say "F--- you!" to Gabriel!
Well, I can't say I totally regret the experience, as it certainly gives me something to write about. I respect movies like THE EXORCIST for daring to confront religion's most troubling questions. To a lesser degree I respect THE OMEN for doing its homework... and I even respect MEGIDDO for telling the story the way the makers sincerely believe it should be told. THIS, on the other hand, is utter contempt disguised as religious profundity. If you want to see the most utterly WRONG movie to dare think of itself as "religious horror," you'd better hurry while this one's still standing. Your wings could really help you right now...
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