Legions (2022)

Rating: B-

Dir: Fabián Forte
Star: Germán De Silva, Lorena Vega, Ezequiel Rodríguez, Mariana Anghileri

“My name is Antonio Poyju. Some people call me medicaster, shaman, or sorcerer. I prefer to call myself a mediator between worlds. I belong to a lineage of powerful men. My blood is sacred.” That’s how this Argentinian horror film starts, though we soon find out that Antonio (De Silva) has omitted a significant piece of information. He’s locked up in a mental asylum, having committed homicide during the course of his shamanic duties. His complete lack of guilt – hey, it was a demon! – got him diagnosed as a psychopath, and he has been locked up ever since, even though he’s arguably the sanest one there.

Antonio is fairly chill with it, telling the other inmates his stories, and even writing a play based on his experiences which they’ll be performing (top). However, he learns that Kuaraya, a powerful demon he vanquished decades ago, is still harbouring a grudge, and has targetted Antonio’s grown-up daughter, Elena (Vega), in revenge. The problem is, Elena has distanced herself from her father and his beliefs. She now works for an advertising agency, having abandoned the protective charm which he gave her, and even rejected the family name. In order to protect her, Antonio is going to have to find a way out of the institution, convince Elena of the danger she is in, and finally get her to agree to accept his help. Then there’s just the little matter of the vengeful Kuaraya to handle.

This isn’t at all what I expected based on the trailer, which concentrates much more on the occult elements and makes the film look like straightforward horror. The reality is, it’s much more of a character-driven piece, focused on the broken relationship between father and estranged child. This is enough to resonate with anyone who has had a daughter, though my embarrassing of our offspring didn’t involve going to school and delivering the speech at the top of the review. As Elena describes, “Boys avoid me like I have a plague. Some parents took their kids out of school after your sincere introduction.” She just wants a normal life: “A lady calling you at 3 AM because ghosts stole her jewelry is not normal.” However, Kuaraya has his own plan for her.

There’s also the relationship Antonio has with the other inmates, which is almost as fun. At one point, I almost expected them to carry out a ritual for him, within the confines of his play. That doesn’t happen, yet they still are key in the events which unfold, and it’s fun to watch the interaction between the genuine lunatics and a man who only seems to be one, due to his rejection of society’s conventional beliefs. I might have preferred a little more meat on the bones once it got there: we never quite got the climax I felt this deserved. I still enjoyed most of this, and it proves there are times when having your expectations not met can be a good thing.