The Legacy

Starring: Katherine Ross and Sam Elliott
Fremantle Home Entertainment
RRP: 12.99
Certificate: 18
Available 25 April 2005

Maggie Walsh is an American architect who is invited to England to work on an interior design job. She has no idea who her mysterious employer is, or what what it is she's expected to do, but a sizeable monetary advance convinces her it is genuine. Once in England she and her partner decide to take in the countryside, but are involved in a near miss with a Rolls Royce. Their motorcycle is damaged, so Jason Mountolive, the rich Englishman offers to put them up in his mansion house while the bike is being repaired. Other guests soon arrive. It seems that they run the industries of Jason Mountolive and have been summoned here by the man. Maggie is asked to talk to Mountolive, but is surprised to find him an ancient creature near death. He pushes a ring (identical to what the others wear) on to her finger, and she is distressed to find it will not come off. Margaret and her partner decide to leave by stealing the Rolls Royce, but all roads lead back to the house, forcing them to return. A painting of a woman identical to Margaret proves to be a powerful witch from the past who passed on her wealth and power to an illegitimate son, Jason Mountolive. One of the group of seal-bearers will be selected to carry forward Satan's power; the rest will be killed...

Unlike many horror movies from the late seventies, this one works by means of disguising itself as something else. It has all the feel of a mainstream suspense, or even light romance, if the beginning is anything to go by. Even the opening music is a song called "Another Side of Me" by Kiki Dee, played over a sort of montage of happy images (Katharine "Maggie" Ross and her partner riding country lanes on a motorbike, or sitting in a field with a picnic, etc.).

There are no cheap tricks, such as slamming doors, or benign characters jumping into shot suddenly. But the best tool that keeps this film out of regular horror territory is the music; it seems to belong to a completely different genre, with mostly light and complementary touches. There is no creepy music talking down to the viewer and telling him or her where to feel a chill. Also, there are no special effects, as such, only make-up prosthetics on the elderly Mountolive.

If you can overlook the inexplicable smashing of everything in the room before Maggie's square-jawed partner thinks to attack Mountolive (the conclusion might have been very different!), this is an enjoyable film. Something a little out of the ordinary.

Ty Power

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