Legacy (2014) – By Kyle Hytonen

The general perception of purgatory is this: in the afterlife, it’s the spot you arrive when you are stuck between heaven and hell. We all can picture heaven, with its white clouds and floating angels. Hell is filled with brimstone, suffering and red deathly fire. There has never been a consensus on what purgatory looks like, which is great fodder for film-makers to create their own vision of this mysterious entity.

Writer/director John Fraser decided with his short film Legacy that his interpretation of purgatory would take place in a wood cabin at the bed of a violent river. A woman (Jessica Miller) and a man (Paul Knox) awaken inside this mysterious cabin, woozy and disoriented. The two are not sure where they are or how they got there, and seem to be suffering from some sort of amnesia. The woman dubs herself Maggie and the man Peter. Peter has awoken with a large gash on his forehead, seemingly from an accident that the two of them were in to bring them to this state. As the two search the grounds of the cabin they soon realize they are all alone, and something is just not right.

In isolation, Peter begins to look at Maggie with very perverted intentions; Maggie is still unsure how the two of them know each other and is off put by his advances. Peter soon becomes aggressive, ties Maggie up and flees from the cabin down the river in a man-made raft. He reappears back in bed, this time awakening with water in his lungs. He tells Maggie that he died trying to escape down the river, and the two quickly realize that where they are might be a place they cannot escape. As Peter becomes more and more sexually aggressive towards Maggie, she decides to take advantage of what purgatory has to offer and exact revenge on the evil that she has to lay with.

Legacy is a well crafted drama with some very keen observations and conceptualizations of purgatory. A very intimate and stripped down presentation, director Fraser, his creative crew and his two leads create a very nice feeling of isolation and dread. The first act of the 17 minute short does take some time to get moving, but once the groundwork for the narrative is set, it moves along quite nicely. Legacy is a dark and macabre version of Groundhog Day steeped with atmosphere, good performances and a solid cinematic eye.