Mickey Miller (Lucy Morton) is not happy about her mother moving her and her little brother to Ireland after the family is bequeathed property by a relative they have never heard of. Mickey is curious about the small village of Longwood, and it is not long before she befriends the ageing Thyrza (Miriam Margolyes), who tells her of the legend of the Black Knight. Strange things begin to happen to Mickey, and she sets out to solve the mystery of the Black Knight, and put the legend to rest once and for all.
The idea behind The Legend of Longwood – combining fantasy and legend into a modern tale – is one that we have seen before on screen. This then raises the question as to whether The Legend of Longwood feels fresh or familiar, and just who the film is aimed at.
Most of the cast do OK with the film; Lorcan Cranitch, Miriam Margolyes, Lucy Morton and Thekla Reuten are all fine in their various roles. Anabel Sweeney does less well as a spoiled little rich girl called Chardonnay, Fiona Glascott makes Caitlin a caricature of a scheming bitch and Lorcan Bonner as Sean always seems to have to leave the scene that he is in because script.
Nadadja Kemper, Lisa Mulcahy and Gwen Eckhaus’s screenplay desperately tries to marry the past and the present in The Legend of Longwood, but with varying success. There is a stunning lack of technology for a film seemingly set in 2015, the idea of the scheming land grab is one we have seen a million times, and doesn’t quite work in the middle of recessionary Ireland, and the legend of the Black Knight doesn’t always quite add up. Elsewhere, the story is rather predictable, although enjoyable enough for the most part, but the animated sequence explaining the legend of the title is beautifully and cleverly done.
As director Lisa Mulcahy coaxes uneven performances from her actors, and overplays aspects of the script that are not really necessary, such as Mickey breaking her leg and Sean’s father having a drinking problem. As well as this, the whole shebang falls a little flat, with twists obvious a mile away and very little honest dramatic tension. Also, for a film that relies heavily on a spooky legend, there is no feeling of eeriness or intrigue.
In all, The Legend of Longwood feels as though it is aimed at young Tweens, possibly the children of Irish ex pats in New York State. There is little here for anyone older than 12, and some serious problems in terms of acting skills, tension and spookiness.