2010 Spanish horror film The Valdemar Legacy tricked the fuck out of me on so many levels it’s not even funny. The fact that it manipulated me into watching what started out as my kind of movie – property inventory assessors falling victim to a horrific monster in an old mansion – then turned into a gothic supernatural period piece and I still not only stuck with it but found it compelling means one of two things. Considering I detest period pieces, it is either most definitely a fantastic film, or it is actually a piece of crap that only I would like.
The opening setup rules. This woman goes to a creepy old mansion to take stock of its contents and is then chased by a terrifying presence that lurks in the shadows. Next, a private investigator is hired to find out what happened to her. When he sits down to get the details of the case, we are launched into the actual plot of the movie…the history of the mansion back in the early 1900s!
Honestly, I thought at first this was going to be a brief flashback scene. But then it kept going and going. By the time I realized I had been bamboozled, it was too late. I was now watching a tale of a couple that begins a bogus séance business to raise money for their orphanage. Why did I stick with it? Because this film injects real-life “horror” figures into the plot, bringing to mind the 1986 film Gothic.
Aleister Crowley, who is pretty much the daddy of the devil here on earth (Daddy Warbucks of the devil, more like it), comes knocking. He believes the mansion truly is a place of paranormal power, and wants to perform a ritual there. The husband finally agrees, so Crowley brings along some of his friends, including Dracula author Bram Stoker, female serial killer Belle Gunness, and mommy and daddy killer Lizzie Borden! When their ritual goes horribly wrong, they unleash a hellish monster from the grave….
Engrossing, stylish, polished, and heavily Lovecraftian, with some major classic horror payoff in the end, The Valdemar Legacy wasn’t yet done having me over a barrel. It finished me off with a jarringly confusing, open ending. The reason why would soon be clear. During the closing credits, there are scenes from The Valdemar Legacy II: The Forbidden Shadow, which appears to take place in modern times with the cast from the beginning of the film, along with…Cthulhu!
DAMMIT! This is a 2-part series, both films made in 2010, but only the first one has found its way over to the U.S. I need to see this fricking sequel NOW.
Finally, there’s one more thing that elevates this film, even though it’s a period piece. Even though he was hidden under ridiculous period costumes, I could tell leading man Daniele Liotti is a stud muffin slathered in melted butter.