Irish Poet W.B. Yeats is credited with popularising the Celtic mythical figure ‘Leannan Si’, a beautiful spirit who takes a human lover, usually an artist – painter, poet, musician or writers. And the affair only ends with the death of the mortal.

Director John Burr’s film ‘Legend of the Muse’ is a contemporary thriller inspired from this lore. The movie starts off with an intriguing murder in the woods. Riley Egan plays Adam, a struggling painter whose fortunes turn when he encounters a mysterious woman at the same spot. She eventually becomes his muse and lover.

Actor Elle Evans who plays the titular ‘muse’ is the hero of this film; she has all the charms of a delicate looking but dangerous enchantress. Despite no dialogues she speaks through her eyes and demeanor.  Max Decker, who has a minor negative role, is just right for his part, a bully of a neighbour who gets Adam to drive him to the woods for some deal, unwittingly leading them to the first chance encounter with the mysterious muse.

While most of the film takes place in Adam’s house, the cinematography is beautiful. Some of the set pieces look likes paintings themselves. Burr meticulously creates a clever juxtaposition of art and gore. Just when you are lulled by the serenity of a scene, there’s some slashing and dicing of human flesh. The background score helps in keeping up the tempo of the story and successfully creates a sense of dread in the viewer for most parts.

The only weak link in this film is lead actor Riley Egan, the moment he opens his mouth, he kind of pulls down the momentum of the movie. It almost feels like he has some sort of a learning disability and if that is supposed to be a character trait then it’s fine. But otherwise his acting just doesn’t work. Somebody with a lot more confidence and charm would have uplifted this film to a whole different level. The rest of the support cast however does a pretty convincing job.

The paintings used in the film are gorgeous work of arts and not the usual random abstract stuff that’s beyond the comprehension of the average viewer. So brownie points for the art direction. With 1 hour 40 minutes to boot, the film however does falter with its thinly written side characters, especially ‘the other woman’ that makes Adam’s muse mad.

A crucial chase sequence towards the end was quite hackneyed and unconvincing. Things begin to get a little predictable in the second half, making the viewer expect a clichéd climax. But then Burr throws up a nice little twist in the last few minutes and saves ‘Legend of the Muse’ from a messy conclusion, an affliction that plagues most horror/thriller films these days.  The story is wrapped up neatly, with some of the puzzling bits from earlier scenes falling into place.

The Legend of The Muse premieres later this July on Amazon US. Shout-out to Tricoast for giving me access to the preview of the film.

Watch the trailer here –