The Cinefessions crew loves sharing their opinions on films, but not every movie can get the attention it deserves with a full review. Enter the Cinefessions’ Capsule Reviews. These capsule reviews cover five of the most important aspects of a film, which allow the crew to deliver their opinions on any movie clearly, decisively, and with brevity. These are not our full thoughts on any film, just a highlighting of the major pros and/or cons.
Killer Legends is a mix of a documentary and an anthology film. The director of Cropsey is back to go over the possible origins of four urban legends. First up is the legend of the killer with the hook for a hand. Joshua Zeman hypothesis that this may have stemmed from the story we learned in The Town That Dreaded Sundown: The Phantom of Texarkana, Arkansas. If you’ve done any research into The Phantom, you won’t learn virtually anything in this segment. It might be interesting for the uninitiated, though. Next is the legend of the Candyman. This urban legend stems from a California man who blamed his kid’s death on the candy they received trick or treating on Halloween. This was the most interesting tale for me, as I didn’t know the origin story at all. The facts are pretty flabbergasting.
The third urban legend looked at is that of the babysitter receiving mysterious phone calls, and she eventually realizes they’re originating from inside the house. There is a lot of talk of When a Stranger Calls and Halloween-type films, but this doesn’t dive too deep into anything. The final urban legend is that of the killer clown. Apparently this was a big thing in Chicago – who knew? – and Zeman talks about the most infamous killer clown of all, serial killer John Wayne Gacy. I might be odd in that I’ve studied this serial killer as well, but there was nothing of note here. Overall, these four legends could be interesting, but Zeman only covers them on a surface level, which is disappointing.
We don’t get too many memorable characters as most are introduced to us through found material, not original interviews shot specifically for this film. The two characters that are most relevant are the director himself, and his researcher, Rachel Mills. They go to visit a lot of the areas where these real-life events took place years prior. Frankly, I don’t understand why they’re doing this other than to try and add some drama, but it falls flat and seems pointless.
I remember when I finally sat down to watch Cropsey years ago. I was really excited because it was so highly touted as a wonderful documentary. The idea – much like the idea of Killer Legend – is excellent, and should’ve connected with me, as horror and documentaries are two of my favorite subjects. Instead, Cropsey left me cold. I can see why some like it, but there was just something missing from it that didn’t allow it to land on me like I’d hoped. The same can be said here. There is little information here that one couldn’t find themselves, and because Zeman focuses on four different stories, we don’t get time to go into the detail one might want in a film like this.
Zeman did use a lot of really cool movie scenes for this film. Unfortunately, I just wished I were watching the majority of those instead of Killer Legends.
No, I won’t watch this again.
Don’t get me wrong; Killer Legends might be great for some people. As someone who has studied serial killers, and knew about 3/4 of these stories coming in, though, it just didn’t do anything for me. I learned almost nothing, which is a shame in a documentary. Zeman may be a great documentary director, but I haven’t seen it yet. Maybe he’ll click with me in the future.