Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
Plot: A devoted couple’s quiet weekend takes a bizarre turn when a nightmarish cult and their maniacal leader come to fulfill an apocalyptic prophesy.
Review: I recently watch a documentary on the history of folk horror (I’ll link it below). It wasn’t only one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen in general, but it made me view this particular genre of horror through a much more critical lens. For those who may not know, folk horror are movies that incorporate stories that take place in remote areas and that centre around either an isolated group of people who may or may not be considered a cult of some sort. People who have their own rules or forms of worship which in most cases mean strangers get sacrificed for not adhering to those beliefs. Midsommar, The Wicker Man, hell, even the recent remake of Wrong Turn are examples of folk horror. And while only two out of the three are masterpieces they are all great examples of folk horror done correctly. Unfortunately The Long Night is not.
Scout Taylor-Compton, most well-known from the Spy Kids movies, and Nolan Gerard Funk of comedy-drama series The Flight Attendant, and who most horror fans will remember as the guy who puts a pen through his brain while smiling in Truth or Dare, play young affluent couple Grace and Jack. Grace doesn’t know anything about her family history so they both travel to a remotely beautiful but eerie house somewhere in rural America and during the course of their stay they are targeted by a doomsday cult.
Director Rich Ragsdale has a great eye as the movie, even with its limited budget, is visually gorgeous with overhead shots of the beautiful landscape, long takes of the house and the sound design, while a bit too much in places where it wasn’t warranted, does work well to create an instant sense of dread for our young couple. Both Taylor-Compton and Funk (sounds like a disco band, doesn’t it?) give solid performances, even as they are both very thinly written. The only other actor of note here is Jeff Fahey who is no stranger to the genre (The Lawnmower Man, Body Parts, Planet Terror just to name a few) pops up in a small role as the property’s owner who gets on the wrong side of the cult leader (played by Deborah Kara Unger). But that’s about it for extraneous characters and while there are movies out there that utilise a few characters and still manage to tell a fully fleshed out and effective tale, this feels like there’s only enough material here to warrant an episode of Creepshow and not an entire film. Even at an hour and thirty minutes, which is a relatively short runtime for films these days, this felt overly long.
But the biggest problem with The Long Night is it’s dressed up as a folk horror but in truth is nothing more than a stalker film along the lines of The Strangers. Even with the supernatural elements and the stalkers dressed up in animal skull masks and dark robes that does not make this folk horror. Most of the middle act is focused on Grace and Jack trying to keep these weirdos out of their house, someone breaks in, a fight ensues and then someone dies just to have another cult member attempt it again.
Besides some cool imagery of a woman getting it on with a demon and some heavy exposition by cult leader The Master in the very final act there is nothing here that truly stands out as a proper folk tale. The cinematography is beautiful and to be commended but the story itself is too thin and too simplistic to truly stand out in any meaningful way.
Sommer’s Score: 4 out of 10
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Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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