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Review: Longlegs. Pure horror and talent in an awesome film

  • Release year: 2024
  • Directors: Oz Perkins.
  • Producers: Nicolas Cage, Dave Caplan, Chris Ferguson, Dan Kagan and Brian Kavanaugh-Jones.
  • Screenplay by: Oz Perkins.
  • Cinematography by: Andres Arochi.
  • Music supervisor: Natasha Duprey.

Synopsis: an FBI agent investigates the serial murders of families to catch the killer.

Shotgun Commentary: absolutely terrifying. It will make your hair raise and goosebumps appear all over.

Agent Lee Harker (Maika Monroe). Source: Longlegs (Oz Perkins, 2024).

Review

Longlegs follows agent Lee Harker (Maika Monroe) as she is put as reinforcement into the investigation of a serial killer who murders families, leaving no trace other than cryptic letters signed as Longlegs. The film scares the bejesus out of you from minute one. Even before the actual movie card is shown, you will be grabbing onto your seat in a desperate attempt to ground yourself onto reality.

Much of this horror is due to an outstanding soundtrack and perfectly placed frames. Sadly, that doesn’t mean that Longlegs avoids a few horror clichés that are beneath the standard it’s trying to set.

The third, blind, eye

The whole story is based on the fact that the FBI believes in the supernatural without question. That they accept, at an institutional level, the existence of psychics or “highly intuitive persons”, without even bother to investigate or study them. This stand seems like a big leap into fiction to make so early in a feature of this genre. And if it’s based on real facts, it is a little big worrying that such an agency has those beliefs.

Agent Lee Harker (Maika Monroe). Source: Longlegs (Oz Perkins, 2024).

Be that as it may, Harker is a little bit of a psychic, but her super intuitive powers don’t stop her from doing what every dumb character in a horror movie in a cabin always does. She sees someone outside, she could call for help or for her partners, but no, she goes out to investigate, LEAVING HER DOOR WIDE OPEN.

This scene is as stressful as it is frustrating. She is a trained FBI agent and a psychic, yet her behaviour is exactly the same of a drunk teenager in a slasher. What a time to be alive in the USA…

Of course, hiding behind a window Scary Movie (2000) style is also not beneath her, same as living in a cabin with huge windows that are never covered, making it ridiculously easy for anyone to target her. There is a point of the film when you will actually begin to wonder whether she wants to live at all.

This bit comes with some spoilers, so click here if you wish to avoid them.

Cliché #1 and other unexplainables

Now, let’s talk about Agent “Dead Meat” Carter (Blair Underwood). The black sidekick who conveniently has a family that fits the profile of the killer and says the most irritatingly obvious lines used only for characters who are about to die. This guy smells dead even before you know he has a family, that’s how predictable he is.

Agent Lee Harker (Maika Monroe). Source: Longlegs (Oz Perkins, 2024).

What is most irritating is not that you see it coming from the beginning, rather the stupidity of his death. Once you’ve seen what the dolls do and how to break free from them, why don’t you do the same thing to save the Carters? Sure, Harker tries at the very end, but that should’ve been her first move, not her last! Although, as far as doll movies go, this would’ve made an incredible Annabelle: Creation (2017) movie.

What you can’t see, can hurt you

That being said, Longlegs succeeds in keeping you guessing until the very end. There are delightful twists and turns all throughout the narrative. What seemed scary isn’t, or is it? And what seemed innocuous isn’t, or is it?

This sensation of being in the dark is heavily, and masterfully, exploited by the photography. The framing changes to differentiate past and present, and to add some more horror into it. Characters shown half way, the possibility of something lurking in the background of many shots… Even a paused screen gets creepy when put from the right perspective, feeding the spectator’s paranoia and providing non-stop tension.

Agent Lee Harker (Maika Monroe). Source: Longlegs (Oz Perkins, 2024).

At the same time, Longlegs proves that one doesn’t need to be filthy to be horrible. The shots are symmetric and crisp, the aesthetics demanding protagonism in the slower, more relaxed moments of the narrative. Incidently, some shots are so beautiful that they could be mixed up with Taylor Swift’s Evermore album cover, not kidding.

The use of red for danger and evil, and blue for calm and security is simple but incredibly effective, manipulating your feelings just as the frames do. Similarly, they play with focal distances to stretch the spaces unnaturally, which plays with the viewers’ perception, very discreetly putting them in an uncomfortable situation.

Who’s the target audience, again?

In fact, there is only one big but on the film, and that is a significant deflation in the last act. How do you know it’s the last act? Good question! Once again, you don’t need to be paying attention to distinguish a very clear, traditional three-act story. You will be babied into knowing which part you are watching through cards. AGAIN.

Longlegs (Nicolas Cage). Source: Longlegs (Oz Perkins, 2024).

Thankfully, the soundtrack does treat the audience like adults. Adults to be tortured and scared out of their minds, that is. The sound pairs with the slow zooms and the fast movements perfectly, enhancing the horror dimension of everything you are watching.

It would be interesting to watch Longlegs without sound, just to check how much the soundtrack shapes the story. A good guess would be an incredible amount. It could do with a little less silent setting followed by a big bang, as it gets a bit repetitive, but there isn’t much else one can say about the composition except that it is fantastic and terrifying.

The cherry on top

Last, but most certainly not least, it’s time to talk about Longlegs himself, played by Nicolas Cage. What. A. Performance. If anyone still doubted Cage’s abilities, this is the movie to shut them all up. Cage is unrecognisable in this role, and not only because of the makeup. He has given us one of the most epic villains in horror of the century. He is ghastly and formidable, interesting and strange, he’s got everything you need to never sleep again.

Longlegs (Nicolas Cage). Source: Longlegs (Oz Perkins, 2024).

Whoever make the decision to cover his face with prosthetics deserves an award. Obviously, the makeup department deserves another award for actually making it happen. Not only disguising Nicolas Cage completely, but the gruesome special effects involved in the film, which are absolute perfection, deserve all the recognition they can get.

All in all, Longlegs is a terrifying masterpiece that will change your life, at least for a few days, specially if your birthday is the 14th. Nicolas Cage and Maika Monroe nail the delivery of a great story, providing us with yet another horror classic that elevates the genre.

Advice to take from this movie:

  • Don’t. Hide. Behind. Windows!
  • One would think this one is also obvious, but apparently not: close the door when you go out. ALWAYS.
  • Nicolas Cage can do anything, you should just accept it if you haven’t already.
Murder scene. Source: Longlegs (Oz Perkins, 2024).

What’s your take? Have you watched Longlegs? Were you one of the few who didn’t shake in fear at the cinema? Don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below, or leave a message in my contact page! For more reviews and cinema-related articles, check out the rest of my blog! 😀

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