fantasy

[Movie Review] Legend of the Muse (2020) ★★★☆☆

Adam staring at his painting in Legend of the Muse 2020

Legend of the Muse paints a bloody sketch of folklore and a struggling artist.


Legend of the Muse is a fantasy horror originating from Irish folklore. With great and beautiful cinematography a visceral feel is created with violence and mayhem. The story is simple and a mere sketch of a struggling artist, that as a whole, sometimes falls a bit short. It’s an unusual story that brings to life old folklore which we don’t see much often in horror stories, but without that something extra to revive it fully and to its full potential. 

Thank you, DarkCoast for the opportunity to watch Legend of the Muse in advance of its premiere this July at Amazon US.


Plot

Adam is an artist with talent. He can draw and paint really well, but something is missing, some kind of inspiration to take his art to the next level. Until he hears faint whispers and he is drawn into the woods, when caught up in a criminal activity with his thug neighbor. After things get out of hand they encounter a mysterious woman.

Later that night Adam seems to conjure up this woman with his art, painted in a trance-like state. She proves to be his new muse, opening doors to become a respectful and wanted artist, but at a terrible cost.


Why you should watch it

Legend of the Muse is beautifully shot. With a slow steady pace the story unfolds precociously and with great visuals. The lighting creates a dreamlike atmosphere and the music is almost always present, and sometimes a bit overwhelming, but daring, adding to the strangeness that surrounds Adam. The film is told mostly by images, creating an elusive vibe, and there isn’t much dialogue, unless it’s necessary to provide some essential information. 

While this sets a fairytale-like tone, it works for the visual experience but often the story itself falls somewhat behind. It stays too superficial which is mostly caused by the underdevelopment of Adam’s character. He starts out as an artist with talent, who’s rather meek and quiet and a shy person but slowly changes into someone more dark after he met the muse or Leannán Sí(dhe) as she is called. 

This muse is a figure from Irish folklore. She seeks out an artist to inspire, to love and to protect. Her protection takes a rather sinister and deadly form. While her motivations are clear, and originate from legend and mythology, hers doesn’t have to be explained any further to understand who or what she is. She’s the catalyst to push the story forward. She’s the plot in which Adam is willing to surrender himself to in order to make it as an artist. Her presence is fairytale-like but dark, but his change is subtle and even darker. 

Although this unfolds into a dark horror, Adam’s motivation and character development is what mostly lacks in this film. His drive to want to be a renowned artist, his motivation, his struggling aren’t that fleshed out to make the viewer understand why he turns dark and sinister within a heartbeat. His transformation from shy guy to someone who kills or let his Muse kill in order to pursue his dreams, without any hesitation or guilt or remorse or even being grossed out, is too bluntly shown. 

Adam’s struggle to be an artist, to do anything for it, his intensity, and to finally be consumed by it, without any doubts, with his Muse by his side, is what doesn’t come about in a strong way, making the story somewhat drifting on the surface. Just the buzz saw used in a sinister way and the fierce strokes of red paint on the canvas after a kill, remind of a blood-soaked motivation, while blood is spilled, painting his floors and walls in a most gruesome way.

The film is a concept story that is roughly sketched but shot with care, but not as fleshed out as it could have been. It’s not your usual storytelling but it creates an idea that comes to life through the muse. She is the plot of the film and the subject of Adam’s paintings. It’s an original fresh story forged in Irish legends and mythology that could have been more substantial to really captivate and take it to an even higher level. 


My favorite part

Although the kills of the cliched thugs were nice pieces of horror, especially after Adam lured them into his apartment, they were very much anticipated. The kill of the nasty caretaker Lance was more inspired and did result in altering the tone of the film also altering Adam and his perception. It showed how messed up things were and that Adam was on his path of destruction for good. That was the point of no return and defined the movie and Adam in way that could have been shown more throughout the film to define his character.


Ratings

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Thrill factor: ★★☆☆☆

Originality factor: ★★★☆☆


Cast and crew

Legend of the Muse is directed and written by John Burr. It stars Riley Egan (Adam), Elle Evans (Leannán Sí(dhe)), Kate Mansi (Maria), Jennie Fahn (Valerie), Max Decker (Hector) and Phil Abrams (Lance). 

Duration: 91 minutes. Music: Alexander Rudd. Cinematography: Damian Horan. Edited by: Ed Marx, Jeff Murphy. Production companies: Desert Wind Films, Watchmakers Entertainment, Manhattan Company Entertainment. Distributed by: DarkCoast, TriCoast Worldwide’s horror label. 


Check the trailer below