The very first scene of The Legend of Lucy Keyes (2006) shows us an extremely dangerous horror-ghost, quite icky yet void of emotional power because it was not given any context.
Then the film proper begins in a very disorienting way as it can take a while to realize the opening scene was a "flash forward" sampler of an event that actually happens near the climax, but seems at first to have been a scene given in consecutive order then when that turns out not to be true seems it must've been a flash-back since the wife of the family is carrying emotional baggage. Eventually the viewer will realize it was a flash-forward but really just a scene from the film given foolishly out of order
As story structure it is so stupid because it doesn't make a lick of sense. Plus that first sequence gives away the only good bit the film will have later on.
It is my guess that a distributor's contract hinged on giving the film this "explosive beginning" & part of the ending was stuck at the front to satisfy B-film promoters who couldn't imagine commercial possibilities for a film that started out with family life instead of screaming horror. Since it was never otherwise intended as an opening teaser, there was no way to make it fit.
A family moves into a nice New England farmhouse where there's a local legend of a witchy scary ghost in the wood by name of Martha Keyes (Rachel Harker). She's the insane ghost of a woman who lost her daughter Lucy (Anna Friedman) 250 years before. The newly arrived family includes a daughter also named Lucy (Cassidy Hinkle), so the spooky ghost takes a particularly deadly interest in the kid.
They're city folk who've come to town to turn an untouched (because haunted) ancient woods into a windmill electrical generation site with huge ugly-ass propellers to replace the trees, insisting they'll look nice.
The dad (ultra unmemorable Justin Theroux who isn't invariably this bad but is essentially a television actor) is convinced this project represents the future of ecologically safe electricity & never acknowledges he's a destructive s.o.b. & should've turned out to be a villain of the piece.
Instead, it's his boss, played by Brooke Adams (looking too much like Margot "Lois Lane" Kidder during her mentally ill period), who is spearheading the project. She is portrayed as a repulsive business woman hoodwinking everyone because she alone stands to make millions.
Gretchen Gazwell (Jamie Donnelly) is the local keeper of the legends trying to save the woodlands & warning about the dangerousness of unsettling the ghost(s). French actress Julie Delpy plays the mom, who must rise to heroic action to save Lucy, & does the best acting job of anyone, though as written the role is nevertheless thankless.
Nothing original happens in the whole damned film, & nothing is more entertaining than the fact that the family's name is Cooly. A dirty crazed hillbilly pig farmer Jonas (Mark Boone Junior) lives next door & he intentionally gets the smelliest most fetid pigfeed he can find (decaying oysters) so that the odor will annoy the city slicker Coolys plus keep the evil ghosts at bay.
Out in the barn Lucy finds a doll that used to belong to the original Lucy, with no reference to what supernatural power caused the old doll to look recently sewn by some prop department, having nothing of the antique about it. Lucy trades the doll to ghost-Lucy, in exchange for an awfully handy 250-year-old document, also unaged, which reveals what happened to her & where her body lies.
If the build-up seems a little boring, the pay-off is more boring still, though there are a couple violent deaths, discovery of the old bones, laying of the witch-mommy-ghost, with the film's "padding theme" of the environmental goodness of replacing the forest with huge propellers fallen by the wayside without much resolution since it was never the least important.
There's only one gross sequence, in the flashback before insane Martha was a ghost, going about in the woods killing Indians in the night. The story otherwise attempts to be family-friendly, but apparently the slaughter of Indians is a permissible exception.
And while the murder of one child has had centuries-long repercussions, & both white people had souls that could haunt the place of injustice, the slaughter of those Indians was just story decoration, perhaps due to a very old premise that Indians have no souls (I jest of course; putrid writing ability is the real reason for this asininity).
Ultimately, although void of the usual kitschiness of cheap horror productions, there's just too little left over once the kitsch is removed. If there was any chance that I'd remember the name of the writer/director in the future (& who would) it would be only to avoid wasting time on future films from the same poor hand.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl