‘Legion’: Birth of a New Sub Genre?

Guns, God, and gory glory -- Is 'Legion' a sign of things to come?
Guns, God, and gory glory -- Is 'Legion' a sign of things to come?

Hollywood sucks. All they do is remake stuff from abroad, stuff from our childhoods, and nothing good ever comes out of there. Right? OK, that’s been a pretty accurate account of things so far, but every once in a while, Hollywood likes to surprise.

I must admit I was a bit puzzled by Sony Pictures’ January 2010 offering, Legion. Yes, I know, January is where studio dogs go to die. But it’s more the approach this movie seems to be taking that gives me hope. Not so much for the movie itself, necessarily, but for the modern horror flick.

For those who haven’t stumbled across this one yet, Legion is about an angel who comes to Earth, dagger and machine gun in hand, to protect a pregnant waitress (yes, I know) and her happless co-workers from a deadly invasion of…angels. God’s lost his cool with mankind again, and he’s sent the heavenly posse to clean house.

And if you’re mouthing the words Left Behind series, you’re well ahead of me. But do us both a favor: check out the trailer here, and see what you think. It looks a tad cliche, I will admit — sort of The Punisher and The Matrix by way of Tremors — but I think there might be the germ of a good idea rolling around in there somewhere.

We may be witnessing two firsts at once: a major studio pushing a religious-themed movie with reasonably-good production values, and the unleashing of the Deity into the world of acceptable movie antagonists. This could prove to be an extremely potent cocktail.

Finding the Scary in the Sacred

Religious flicks are nothing new, of course. “Modern” religious movies (where it’s intimated that people have sex and swear) have virtually mirrored the rise of the “new horror,” with both genres appearing about 15 years ago — twin responses to the shrinking of the world and the escalation of conflict throughout it. Where the likes of Hostel and Wolf Creek have explored the negative ramifications of this new world order, movies such as Left Behind and its sequels have done the same, only adding a larger Christian context to it all.

What we have in Legion, though, is something that takes the crowd-pleasing gore and polished filmmaking of the Splat Pack, and marries it with some (albeit questionable) religious underpinnings. In the process, it acknowledges something that we’ve all known on some level for a while: depicting a cheesed-off Creator on screen can make for some really chilling moments. This is not the kinder, gentler Deity of the modern West, but the vengeful force of the Old Testament who will smite his most ardent followers for the smallest infraction.

Yes, we’ve had end-of-the-world cinema (End of Days) and the devil’s progeny flicks (The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, et al), but there’s an inherent problem with all of these “devil” movies: the devil can never win. Sure, he can be shown having himself a good old time, but the entire cosmology of the Christian universe is set up with the cards firmly stacked against Old Scratch. He can raise a bit of, well, you know, but ultimately he’s screwed because, sooner or later, “daddy” has to come home. Set up a film world where it’s God himself that’s trying to do you in, and you’re dealing with something else altogether.

So, who wants to talk about Hollywood remakes now? I’m thinking The Ten Commandents…

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8 thoughts on “‘Legion’: Birth of a New Sub Genre?”

      1. Many thanks (it’s actually a converted WordPress theme, but don’t tell them), excited to read your book, I’m purchasing it in the next few days and will post a review.

  1. Thanks for asking – it’s a little slow going (thanks to me being ridiculously over-ambitious in subject matter), but highly enjoyable. Still working on the early silent era, but discovering many movies and people not often talked about in genre books.

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