Monday, December 11, 2006

The Legend of Lucy Keyes (2006)

After losing a child in an accident, the Cooley family moves from the city to the country to start fresh and try to heal some wounds. The father, Guy (Justin Theroux), is working on a project to bring a windmill farm to the small town to increase their use of green energy. Guy, his wife Jeanne (Julie Delpy), and their two daughters Molly (Kathleen Regan) and Lucy (Cassidy Hinkle) slowly settle into country living as well as their large farmhouse. Guy is working with local city council woman Samantha Porter (Brooke Adams) to get the windmill project approved by the town. While most of the townsfolk approve of Guy’s plan, there are a few dissident voices…

One of these is the Cooley’s neighbor, Jonas Dodd (Mark Boone Junior), who uses extremely smelly clam bellies, which he feeds to his pigs, to try to run them out of town. The stench is almost unbearable but the Cooley’s stick it out. There’s also Gretchen (Jamie Donnelly), the town crazy, who tells them not to build the windmills because the land is “historically significant.” Jean begins to research the house and finds out that a girl named Lucy Keyes lived there 250 years ago. One day, she went missing in the woods and was never seen again. Her mother, Martha Keyes, searched the woods for her daughter every day until her death. The legend goes that Martha still haunts the woods, and her spirit won’t rest until she finds her precious Lucy. Throughout all this, Jean has been hearing a voice out in the woods and seeing a figure at night. As more and more is revealed about the mystery, Lucy Cooley becomes involved and things take a sinister turn. Are Gretchen, Jonas and other townsfolk trying to scare the Cooley’s out of town or have they disturbed the ghosts of Martha and Lucy Keyes?

Straddling the line between horror and suspense, The Legend of Lucy Keyes comes off pretty lukewarm. It is well put-together, with tight camera work, beautiful cinematography, an excellent story and polished performances, but it lacks atmosphere and scares. I wish some things had been developed more, such as Lucy Cooley’s point of view and Jeanne’s heartbreak at the loss of her other child. Also, it would have been interesting to focus on the similarities Martha Keyes and Jeanne Cooley share. This would have given it a depth that I think is missing from the film.

Since this is a ghost story, there’s not much gore shown except for bloodied pigs’ heads and some blood on the floor and on a knife. There is a murder of a child, but it is not shown in graphic detail. The ghost is only seen a few times, and the special effects are decent, but nothing spectacular and nothing too spooky. The real dread comes with each new reveal and twist in the plot. These include shady property deals going on with the townsfolk, secrets, hidden documents, the nightly screams Jeanne hears, Lucy Cooley’s new “friend” and the tragic pasts of both the Cooley’s and the Keyes’. All these elements come together in the end for a dramatic conclusion.

While this film has a great story and is supposedly based on true events, it just drags in too many places. The scenes are pretty repetitive, too – every night it’s the same as Jeanne wakes up in a panic, hears a scream through the wind, races to Lucy’s room to check on her and…goes back to sleep. Scenes like this get pretty stale after I’ve seen them three times already and nothing new or exciting happens. However, I was surprised to learn that this aired on the Lifetime Movie Network. For Lifetime, I suppose this is pretty good, especially with the mother/daughter bond theme it focuses on. I do like how they used a horror story to showcase how strong a mother/daughter bond can be!

Nonetheless, a seasoned horror viewer won’t be too impressed with The Legend of Lucy Keyes. While it has decent acting and an engaging storyline, it suffers from a serious lack of scares and lack of a creepy atmosphere. I would recommend this as a gift if you want to bond with your mother and slowly ease her into horror.

Order it on Amazon!

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