The Legend of Lucy Keyes (2006)

Rating: C+

Dir: John Stimpson
Star: Julie Delpy, Justin Theroux, Cassidy Hinkle, Brooke Adams

When the Cooley family moves to their new home in Princeton, Massachusetts, everything seems idyllic. But the windmill project on which Guy (Theroux) is working faces unexpected local opposition; their neighbour is a borderline loony; and Jeanne (Delpy) keeps hearing a woman in the woods calling for Lucy. Which happens to be both their daughter’s name, and that of a girl who went missing there 250 years ago, according to local legend. It doesn’t take too much to work out whereabout this is going: if you figured the climax will consist largely of people running round the woods by torchlight, then you’re spot-on.

The problem is mostly a script which seems poorly thought-out and contrived: a number of things appear to occur, solely because they are necessary to the plot, such as Lucy (modern version) getting hold of a document which explains the entire scenario. Even though the disappearance in question was based on a true story, I can’t say the rest of it convinced me very much. There are some nice other elements though, not least Cassidy Hinkle as Lucy Cooley, who appears to have the same adorability gene found in Dakota Fanning and Abigail Breslin. Non-annoying child actors are rare, and Hinkle may go on to bigger things.

The camerawork is also good, helped by being shot in an area that feels like it has genuine history, enhancing the atmosphere here in a way money can’t buy. Speaking of which, the budget here isn’t huge – Delpy probably took much of it, as the film is shot on HD Video. However, it’s rarely obvious, in part because the special FX are sparing, yet well-integrated. In the end though, if the technical aspects are sound enough, this feels more like a TV movie than a horror film, with very little in the way of credible scares.