Normally I avoid horror films with religious overtones, but something about the genre-bending action-adventure-Christian-mythology-horror hy...

Legion or the Bad Parent Trap?

Normally I avoid horror films with religious overtones, but something about the genre-bending action-adventure-Christian-mythology-horror hybrid Legion intrigued me. Set on the eve of the biblical apocalypse, it follows the struggle of a small band of survivors holed up in a diner in the middle of nowhere. Led by the fallen archangel Michael, they rally to protect a waitress whose unborn child is humanity’s last hope of survival. Legion’s unusual mix of action adventure with Christian mythos (Angels with submachine guns!) in addition to horror tells a story not just about the struggle between God and man, but about the rewards and pitfalls of being a parent.

Legion is not only full of people possessed by angels sporting blackout eyes and shark teeth—it also abounds with unwanted children and reluctant parents. Charlie, the waitress and modern Mary is the most recognizable of these. Knocked up by a man who is “out of sight, out of mind” she forestalls her initial plan of getting abortion and decides to go through with the pregnancy and give the baby up for adoption. In an early morning conversation with Jeep, the resident mechanic who’s besotted with Charlie, she tells him “I’m not ready to be a mama” despite Jeep’s insistence that they can make it together as a family. Even after having the baby, Charlie rejects it, unsure how she will guide it into being the person that will lead the world out of darkness. Charlie’s rejection of the child is similar to God’s rejection of his children, the human race. It’s this disillusionment that leads Him to send pestilence, black flies, boils, sores and pissed-off angels down the pike.

"I am not your baby's daddy!"

But Charlie isn’t the only parent having second thoughts about her offspring. In a hysterical outburst, Sandra, the mother of teen-rebel Audrey outright blames her for the death of her husband. “We were only here because of you” she accuses, sliding into melodramatics as she lets the girl know “You ruined my life”

Sandra really shows how she’s the mother of the year when she snatches Charlie’s newborn to broker a deal with the angels that will allow her and her daughter to escape. “It’s just one baby,” she sobs moments before Michael caps her in the head. Sandra’s failure as a parent also echoes the impotency of Jeep’s father who causes the death of the one of the group when he falls asleep at his post.

The frustrated children of Legion act no better that their parents. Audrey uses her sex appeal to lash out at an aloof mom and dad, wearing barely-there skirts and kidding about her desires to be tag-teamed by a pair of smelly truckers. In a conversation with Tyrese, a young failed parent in the middle of a child custody battle, he reveals to her that as a kid he was bad to get the attention of a distracted dad. This after school explanation of acting out is meant to mirror mankind’s brutal acts to get the attention of a cosmically absent Father.

Despite its consistent theme of parent-child relationships, Legion ultimately suffers from a filmic identity disorder. Its effort to appeal to fans of multiple genres ultimately dilutes its message and it ends much as it began. Waitress Charlie tells the audience about the apocalyptic prophecies her mother would tell her after her father abandoned them.

“She never talked of a kind and merciful God again. Instead she spoke of a prophecy. Of a time when all the world would be covered in darkness and the fate of mankind would be decided. One night, I finally got the courage to ask my mother why God had changed, why He was so mad at His children. "I don't know," she said tucking the covers around me, "I guess He just got tired of all the bullshit."
The final scene shows us Jeep and Charlie on the open road with a baby on board and a stash of assorted weapons in the back seat. Little has been resolved and it seems as though God is still “tired of [his children’s] bullshit” even as Jeep and Charlie drive into the sunset to try to make it as a family.