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Film Review: “A Deadly Legend” May Pass As a Funny Student Film, but Is Littered with Flaws and Low-Quality Genre Tropes

Written by: Adam Vaughn | July 23rd, 2020

Film, poster:: “A Deadly Legend”

A Deadly Legend (Pamela Moriarty, 2020) ½ out of 4 stars.

A Deadly Legend tells the story of an ancient burial ground that houses an evil force terrorizing a small town, and the hapless members of said town who fight to survive. Fortunately for the characters, the development of this project turned out to be so ineffectively cheesy and underdeveloped that they shouldn’t have a problem surviving. Not a single element of the story rings authentic, the production design and execution are clearly running on a strict budget, and the concept reveals a plot and exposition trying so hard to be the next Pet Sematary or Poltergeist, yet lacking any of the artistic endeavor of those two films.

Assuming that this film was, indeed, on a tight budget, the best possible thing first-time director Pamela Moriarty can do is home in on the technical elements and performances. This film, however, fails to blend the two together in a coherent way. The characters are over the top and corny in their delivery of lines, the cinematography and editing scream student-film quality, and the production value is a complete turnoff, from the smallest details of makeup and visual effects all the way down to the location department’s feeble attempts to find the settings needed to make this film possible.

Tatiana Szpur in A DEADLY LEGEND ©Gravitas Ventures

As if that isn’t enough. the overall concept lacks any luster of originality, catering to the few filmmakers who made it possible, and a clear “pat-on-the-back” attitude for having made a feature film from start to finish. The entire film feels as if it was made with a single camera and a laptop, with little to no attention to sight or sound during the final cut. The film does not seem directed and guided by artists with a full grasp of the cinematic form, nor with any kind of resources at their disposal.

On a positive note, Moriarty has directed a feature, and was able to assemble a story from start to finish with a solid, basic beginning, middle and end. In a different situation, the concept could be fleshed out and presented in a way that chills the audience, but as it stands now,  A Deadly Legend has a campy, ineffective delivery that tries too hard to be a fully functioning film. Perhaps with a higher budget, Moriarty may have been able to create a more compelling version of her tale. Until then, this film may only be viable as a flick that qualifies for a drinking game or as a bad dare.


Adam Vaughn is a graduate of the Film & Moving Image program at Stevenson University, with a focus in Cinematography and Production. He also has a minor in Theater and Media Performance. Adam works as a freelance photographer and videographer, focusing his craft on creating compelling photographic and cinematic imagery. Adam is excited to join the Film Festival Today team and explore the world of cinema and visual arts.

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