Beware the Darkseekers

I Am Legend is the third and only adaptation to bare the name of Richard Matheson’s original novel. Another adaptation after The Omega Man was in development ever since the 90’s. Many bankable leads and directors came and went, but ultimately I Am Legend was made in 2007. Legendary military scientist Robert Neville is now played by the always charismatic Will Smith. I was intrigued by I Am Legend since I was still a big Smith fan. Maybe I was just too young, but the aggressively bleak tone depressed me for awhile after I saw it. Not that I should’ve expected a virus wiping out 90% of Earth’s population to be joyful.

I Am Legend was still a box-office hit with a committed one-man performance from Smith. Neville experiments to find a cure and tries to maintain his sanity alongside his sole German Shepherd companion Sam. The empty New York City is full of animals to hunt, mannequins to talk to, and even a Batman v Superman banner that predicted the future. After vampire-zombies and mutants, I Am Legend blends both creatures together to create the Darkseekers. Animalistic nocturnal zombie-like albino mutants with gaping mouths rendered in really terrible CGI. The horror helps them appear more threatening in quieter moments.

Neville has some moments of levity, but the bleakness doesn’t let up for a second. SPOILER ALERT! His wife and daughter (played by a young Willow) are killed in an evacuation helicopter, they rip your heart out by infecting his dog, and don’t get me started on the ending. An enraged Neville is rescued by a surviving Anna and her son Ethan. They talk of a secret camp where Neville can cure the rest of the surviving humans. Instead of accept a new race that’s capable of human emotion like the much better alternate ending, the monsters are simply blown up with Neville sacrificing himself and passing his cure onto Anna. I Am Legend is too bleak for repeat viewings, but it is a well executed portrayal of a future to avoid.

I Am Legend

Robert Neville and Sam wander New York

8 thoughts on “Beware the Darkseekers

  1. I quite liked this, though there were elements that frustrated me at the time… I also saw it with the alternative ending, which is definitely the one that you would expect from what unfolds during the movie. I haven’t seen it since it was released, so I don’t know how I’d feel about it now.

    Liked by 1 person

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