Not being a particularly religious man, I usually try to keep God and His teachings as far away from my horror movies as I possibly can. It’s a rule that’s served me well thus far. And while there’s a fair amount of heavy-handed religious posturing found in Daniel McLemore Stanton’s affecting horror flick Legion of the Liar, it doesn’t overwhelm the film’s ability to deliver more than a few genuine scares. It’s by no means perfect, of course, but I dare you to find something more original and daring within the independent spectrum of the genre.
“Legion…” is more of an experimental art project than a straight-forward genre experience, relying heavily on disturbing imagery and a spooky sound design to effectively convey its message. The film follows the exploits of a determined priest as he attempts to forcibly rip the satanic forces nesting inside a girl locked away deep within an insane asylum. As an audio tape accounts the man’s struggle against this unholy demonic power, the camera careens wildly through the abandoned hospital, allowing you to get up close and personal with the building’s sinister collection of extremely odd inhabitants. This unusual approach actually manages to breath a bit of life into an otherwise moldy tale of teenage exorcism.
Overall, the film is a success, due in part to Stanton’s choice of location. The Ravenwood Asylum, as it’s called in the film, is essentially a character in and of itself. This creepy collection of derelict rooms and shadowy hallways manages to invoke more feelings of dread and despair than any working actor could ever hope to convey. It helps matters considerably that Stanton is a top-notch visual storyteller; the lack of on-screen actors never becomes and issue once you’ve been sucked into the dusty bowels of this foreboding structure.
My only major problem with the film is the voice acting. While most of the problems are obscured by the liberal use of filters and distortion, you’ll soon discover that the majority of the spoken dialogue is flat and tasteless. Since the film is largely dependent on voice-overs to tell its story, you’d think more care and consideration would have been put into finding a cast that could deliver a believable line. This, along with some pacing problems, dull Legion’s otherwise shiny exterior.
Problems aside, Daniel Stanton has done an admirable job with “Legion of the Liar.” Had veteran music video director Dean Karr directed Brad Anderson’s “Session 9,” it may have looked something like this. The flick’s underlying religious message may put off some disbelieving viewers, but I think it’s worth thorough investigation by anyone who has a passing interest in horror. Jesus, I think, would most certainly approve.