Project Legion (2022) Review
A word of advice to the makers of Project Legion, if ninety percent of your movie is going to consist of the lead actor talking to himself, you need a damn good actor in the role. Not a former MMA fighter who’s had a few small roles where his fists did most of the acting.
Three mercenaries walking through the dark as a voiceover tells us a secret society has hired them to take control of the most haunted area in Europe so it can be researched. We get to hear about the haunting and the experimental drugs that are supposed to keep them safe. They aren’t safe and only Greg (Donald Cerrone, Terror on the Prairie, The Commando) survives.
Back home he drops into his favourite bar for drinks with Cindy (Brande Roderick, Hood of Horror, One Month Out) and Mills (Chris Maher, Blowback, Make A Deal). After the inevitable bar fight, his neighbour Karen (Kelly Lynn Reiter, Maneater, Woods Witch) gives him some black pills, “Doctor’s orders”. The next morning, he wakes up to find all hell has broken loose, literally. The city is under attack and demons are trying to break into Greg’s apartment.
Director Lance Kawas (Dark Angels: The Demon Pit, Clown Motel) and co-writer John Sullivan (Recoil, Fear of the Dark) start with a decent idea for a low-budget film. By keeping Greg trapped in his apartment, they avoid the cost of showing the end of the world while setting up a tried and true siege scenario. One that, given the casting of Cerrone, should be heavy on the action as well as the scares. The fact that Sullivan co-wrote the above-average Security, about a security guard forced to fight off assassins in a closed mall, added to my expectations.
Unfortunately, Project Legion goes wrong right from the start with its clunky and silly voiceover combined with dialogue like “The history of this place…Six hundred and sixty-six years later, on the same day”. It’s so overwrought it provokes laughs rather than shivers. The weak attempts at making the location look spooky, some symbols spray-painted on a tree, don’t help either.
Once Armageddon is upon us, things don’t get any better. Rather than concentrating on Greg trying to fight his way out of his trap, Project Legion gives us near-endless scenes of him talking to himself or recording messages into a broken laptop. The right actor can make that work, but they need to be highly talented and preferably have experience on the live stage delivering monologues and soliloquies.
This is Cerrone’s first major role of any kind, and he’s nowhere near ready for what it requires. He’s OK in some of the scenes where he’s interacting with demons disguised as his friends. But for the majority of the film, he’s the only one on-screen and his solo speeches never sound convincing, especially when talking into a laptop whose screen is covered in static.
Given their star’s skill set, what the filmmakers needed to do was concentrate on scenes of Greg fighting the demons rather than talking. Unfortunately, Project Legion has very little in the way of action. Given the small cast, limited sets and lack of effects other than the creatures, one would expect the budget to have been channelled into showcases for its star’s martial arts skills. Unfortunately, those measures weren’t taken to save money for the action scenes, they were taken because there was no money, to begin with.
Greg stays barricaded in his apartment for most of the film. He occasionally gets out into the hallway or one makes it through the door, but those occasions are few and far between. He does make it as far as the building’s parking area at one point before being forced back. Unfortunately, when he finally does escape, the building looks like a cheap motel with no trace of the windowed parking area he was in.
It’s fitting that the film’s largest action scene, calling it a set piece would be pushing it, involves a dumpster. Because Project legion is a dumpster fire of a movie, from its opening right down to a “shocking” ending, you’ll have guessed before the first act is over.