“Your Muse, find her.”
Tipping a beautiful and surreal toe into the horror genre, Writer/Director John’ Burr’s Legend of the Muse (2020) just released to mass audiences over on Amazon Prime. Winning several awards from various festival’s since its initial premiere back in 2017, the movie tells the tale of a struggling artist suddenly gripped in the doomed and passionate embrace of a supernatural muse. This silent muse is played by the enchantingly beautiful Elle Evans (Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, The Love Witch), who becomes the focus of the film’s protagonist/artist Riley Egan.
Muse is a quick and brief creature feature film, originally tagged as horror, although rebranded within the thriller genre – a change that definitely feels appropriate. The film is shot beautifully, with excellent cinematography although it feels more like a TV-movie than an indie flick. Likewise the soundtrack for the most part is moody and surreal.
Where the film lagged is its ultimate intent. It’s thriller re-branding is a wise step, but overall it doesn’t lean heavily enough into its obviously supernatural and horror themes. For instance, for a film about obsession and spiraling madness, the main character is essentially a blank slate with no history to unravel or to agonize over (compared to say, the characters in The Lighthouse), a point that is greatly evidenced in the art created by the character that though well done (lovely renderings by Jennifer Lauren) feels more fashion-y than dark and brooding, a detail that would have greatly elevated the scenes it was in. Overall the film feels tame, which given its subject matter, was somewhat disappointing because its premise was incredibly interesting.
Despite all this, I enjoyed watching it, and would say given its platform (again, available on Amazon right now) is far and above many horror or thrillers I’ve seen, just in terms of cinematography. It’s definitely a slow-burn, and maybe even a ‘girlfriend/boyfriend’ movie that might be a good gateway flick if you are looking to bring out the horror-hound in your significant other (although the film could have used some better kills – only one stood out). I mention these mild critiques because overall, the film has a lot going for it, and for an apparent full-length debut, looks ridiculously well-done.
For me though, the films creature is actually the best part because it introduced a mythological monster I have heretofore never heard of – the Leannan Sí.
Pulled from Irish folklore, the myth of these beautiful women of the Aos Si (“people of the barrows”) was re-vamped and popularized during the 19th Century Celtic Revival, notably by W.B. Yeats. Ashamedly, I’d never heard of this particular myth, but it’s an intriguing one whereby these fairy muses offer inspiration to artists in exchange for love and devotion – an arrangement that eventually leads to madness and death for their lovers. Evidently a fan of the myth decided to add a homebrew of these fey to the Changeling World of Darkness setting, but I’ve personally never seen these creatures in any RPG I’ve come across – so big props to the film for that alone (and for providing a copy of the film for review)!
And for our D&D purposes – let’s get brewing!
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Like music? Me too – and who better to epitomize an Irish muse than Florence and the Machine’s Cosmic Love (okay, okay they’re English, sue me!)
BETWEEN MONSTERS AND MEN – give some love to a smaller Tuber