Studio: Lionsgate Pictures
US Rating: Rated R- For Some Violence, Disturbing Images and Brief Sexuality
Film Length: 92 Mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English Dolby Digital Surround 5.1
Subtitles: French and Spanish
Review Date: June 14, 2009
The Film - out of
Legend of the Bog is a horror film of sorts that pits a small group of strangers, stranded in the rolling hills and secluded woods of the Irish countryside, against a lumbering Bog Man, recently resurrected after having been unearthed by a construction crew. This band of unlikable characters each seem to share an unlikely connection with one another by the secrets in their past.
Six strangers, a professor and his temporary assistant, two cross-country travelers and a greedy and obnoxious American land developer with her constantly berated cabbie all happen upon a decrepit cottage after their modes of travel fail them (one car runs out of petrol, one gets stuck in the mud and another hits a cow – and no, I am not making that up). Holed up in the cottage, in comes the owner, Mr. Hunter – a stern and somewhat cavalier brut whose life in seclusion (and demeanor in general) put the stranded strangers ill at ease. Unbeknownst to the six, a Bog Man, unwittingly unearthed by the greedy American Land developers work crew (for whom she berated for not immediately dumping it off her land), is wandering around and soon headed for them.
You get the picture – people stranded in the woods, something evil is ‘out there’ and one by one they will succumb to their own foolishness and die a horrible death. There is almost too much wrong with this film to cover in a single review without sounding like a cruel rant. But its numerous flaws must be unearthed here to be fair.
So, let me break down what’s wrong with this film.
1: The Foe
In horror films, much is made (and rightly so) of the seemingly unstoppable foe causing all the grief and terror. Freddy, Jason, the Alien, Frankenstein, Wolfman, Death itself (Final Destination) – the foe made all the difference. In Legend of the Bog, we are exposed to what appears to be forest zombies during the prologue where we are also introduced to Vinnie Jones’ tough-guy Mr. Hunter and his handiness with weapons. We learn a little about the Bog people during an incongruent dump of exposition as the smug Professor Wallace (played by Jason Barry) provides a mix of myth and legitimacy. But when the Bog man miraculously reconstitutes and revives (without explanation, as other bog people unearthed are the fancy of curious scientists and museum onlookers – and remain dead), he goes on an illogical murderous meandering, billowing incomprehensible nonsense and bumbling around like a drunkard with hip problems.
2. The Plot
I don’t expect very much from a horror plot – but I do expect it to add up, make sense and have some meaning within the context and parameters of telling a story. Here, the foe is resurrected without explanation; his thirst for water without foundation; his rampage without reason and his (inevitable) demise without buildup. Bringing strangers together with a link of sorts between them was a good idea, but the nature of their demise as a result of their secret is absurd. For too much of the movie, the bumbling idiot Bog man is nowhere in sight. One death, an accident really, is perhaps supposed to be fate, but Brendan Foley, who wrote and directed the film, never takes the time to properly link fate with the bog man premise. In fact, as presented here, they are completely unrelated except for the thin link of involving the bog. Why was Mr. Hunter in the woods hunting other bog people risen from their slumber, why was the bog man revived, how does the mystical notion of bogs relate to the stranger’s fate? I can make up ideas about the answers for these questions, but shouldn’t have to.
3. The Cast
Ordinarily in a film this bad, the cast could be universally dismissed for being terrible (see my review of Laid to Rest), but here only a couple of the actors serve as dead weight to the cast – the others, while imperfect, are ok. Vinnie Jones, riding his hooligan persona, is a welcome sight in this film. He can dispense sarcasm and thug logic with an ease that pleases. Nora-Jane Noone (The Decent) as Saiorse Reilly is ok here – not standout but better than you might expect. The detractors though are Shelly Goldstein as the obnoxious American Val Leary and Gavin Kelty as the Cabbie Deano Doyle. Goldstein, perhaps more the fault of the writer/director, is cartoonishly brash and rude to the point of irritating. Kelty is likely supposed to be a little comic relief but doesn’t deliver. It’s all a little awkward and distracting.
4. The Delivery
The Legend of the Bog is poorly constructed, functionally shot and has one of the most inappropriate scores ever put to a horror film. The opening scene with Vinnie Jones’ hunter doesn’t align with the proposal of the film. From there, the film splits in two with the journey of the six strangers and the revival of a bog man. The stranger’s secrets and how that is played out has nothing to do with the bog man, a man for which if you employed a moderately brisk walk, you would quickly be out of danger. Some camera angles and shots are poorly placed with obscured action and absolutely no thrills or chills accomplished. The score which is mostly composed of pleasant Gaelic instrumentation and melodies – even as the bog man meanders and murders – is infrequently accompanied by more serious tones – but generally is an utter mismatch for what is onscreen.
Lionsgate pictures drops Legend of the Bog on DVD presented in a ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen and enhanced for widescreen televisions (it was film at 1.85:1).
Soft, lacking in detail and generally bland, there is little to be pleased about. The film was clearly made on a budget that could have bought you a pint of Guinness and a pack of crisps from the local pub, but nothing about that means it should look this disappointing. It isn’t a total loss, but precious few DVD’s released today look this bad.
With an English 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, Legend of the Bog does little to excite the viewer with its sound. Dialogue is a little off in the center channel, the surrounds are barely touched and the front left and right speakers carrying the music and the action don’t really offer very much at all. American audiences, for the most part, will be thankful for the subtitle track to help decipher the varying levels of thickness in the accents (the Cab driver is the thickest). Being from England, I found no problem, but people ask me to repeat words from time to time in restaurants and the like, so I just know the accents will confound folk.
Legend of the Bog is a perplexingly silly film and unnecessary film. Veiled beneath the premise of an unearthed bog body loosed upon strangers is an under-developed idea of secrets and fate that, beyond loose link to bogs, isn’t linked to what this film promises in any way. It isn’t clever, it isn’t appealing and it isn’t worth your time. Avoid.