Edinburgh International Film Festival

The Legacy (L'Héritage) (2007)

Starring: Sylvie Testud, Stanislas Merhar, Olga Legrand, Pascal Bongard, Giorgi Babluani, Leo Gaparidze, Augustin Legrand

Directed by: Temur and Géla Babluani

Rating: 1 2 3 4

Leo Gapardize and Giorgi Babluani in The Legacy

Georgia in the 1990s. Three French tourist take a ramshackle bus from the city of Tiblissi into the lonely mountains, a place that time has forgotten and civilisation hasn't yet reached, in search of a ruined castle that one of them has inherited – the legacy of the title. But when they discover that two of their fellow passengers, a grandfather and grandson, are travelling to an enemy village so that the grandfather can be killed to settle an old score, the castle is forgotten as they decide to follow this grisly adventure through to its bitter end.

Self-righteous and insensitive, they watch the ancient drama unfold through the lens of a video camera, observing everything but understanding nothing. And yet their presence in this story in which they should play no part, proves to be disastrous…

Sounds like the plot of a perfect horror movie, doesn't it? Deliverance meets Hostel with a vengeance. Yet Georgian father and son directing duo Temur and Géla Babluani take the traditional tropes of rural gothic and convert them into something completely different: thought-provoking and moving. A timeless allegory of the endlessly cyclical senselessness of war, with children continuing to pay for the age old rivalries of their forefathers, The Legacy is also a biting, resonant reflection of our star-stalking, media-obsessed age, as the three tourists cast aside all normal restraint in their search for a scoop.

Measured and sombre, but enlivened by a black sense of humour that ridicules both the local yokels and the clueless foreigners, this is a fascinating slice or rural gothic that, at its heart, serves up more true horror than Eli Roth could dream of. It's never going to make you want to visit Georgia, a place where casual brutality is part of every day life, and pretty much anything can happen if enough money changes hands, but it will bring you closer to the Eastern European heart of darkness, and that's a trip worth taking.

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