Let’s see how long the night is.
We follow a posh New Yorker named Grace (Scout Taylor-Compton) who takes her boyfriend with her to the south to find out information about her family. The most mysterious part of the film is how these characters can afford a massive apartment in New York while being able to take an extended vacation to find her parents.
You know, you could rewrite this film as a Hallmark movie fairly easily. A New Yorker returns to her hometown and find solace in the simpler life away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The whole start of the premise is the desire for the couple to meet one another’s parents… I mean, if a horror movie is reminding me of a Hallmark film from the jump it might be a problem. I’m willing to bet the editing team noticed this, too as we have a forced jump scare with no context and a creepy scene before getting back into what is basically a poorly lit romance.
I’m not sure what is more exhausting, the Hallmark-esque storytelling or the shockingly contrived horror tropes present almost immediately. Can we not have a weird scene in a gas station to let us know that our characters are in fact outside of their normal environment? We also have (off screen) a terrible weekend with Jack’s parents, so the couple is tense, for reasons.
Honestly, you could cut Jack out of the film, and little would be missed. He is here to talk crap on the south (and the homeowner who welcomes them in to help them) for no reason. They’re in a fucking mansion and he complains. Wallpaper? Oh no! They could have done something to make his complaining a little realistic. Everyone they meet (at first) is perfectly reasonable, albeit a little stiff, and the conditions they stay in are completely fine. If the house they stayed at wanted to it would be a rockstar air B&B.
You might think I am taking too long to talk crap about the characters, but there isn’t much else to talk about. Somber soft-rock over nature scenes makes up at least 10% of the film. We then have our characters being dumb and obnoxious.
Of course, since this a horror film (though at this point I’d prefer the Hallmark version) there is a cult and Grace’s history has a dark secret. The foreshadowing of this is piss poor as we mixture of southern hillbilly horror and supernatural horror without appropriate telegraphing of either. Biblical imagery aside, there isn’t a lot of reason for anything that is happening. The final act exposition explosion of diarrhea does not count as good story-telling in my book.
I can almost guarantee that there was neither a southerner nor a woman on the writing team. I thought we were past everyone in the south is stupid and weird trope. I also don’t think a young woman who cuts her foot (and needs stitches) would suddenly be in the mood.
By the time the cult crap starts happening (about a third of the way in) you’ll be so exhausted from the terrible dialogue and characters that it won’t pump you up. I know I’m being hard on this one. To be fair, the directing is competent. I think they went for mostly natural lighting, which sometimes enshrouds the scenes too much. However, it does have a nice feel. The house is interesting and appropriately isolated.
The cult outfits are probably my favorite part. They are a creepy mix of old witch paintings and southern gothic. Their presence is intimidating, but without more information as to why they are there it doesn’t raise the stakes. They’re meant to be a supernatural cult, but they are more akin to the villains in The Strangers, without the gleeful misanthropy.
There is probably a more profound mythology behind the imagery, but it is so buried here that none of it matters. The escalation of events makes little to no sense, and I’m not sure the film had a purpose. There is a difference between indirect storytelling and incomprehensible gibberish. The Long Night is much closer to the latter, which is unfortunate.
I’m not sure what could have saved this one. The plot being stupid gibberish didn’t annoy me as much as the characters. Jack in particular might be one of the more obnoxious boyfriends in a horror film as of late. Might be the worst of the year, but we’ll see, the year is young…
I think if they cut out all of the pointless and try-hard edgy scenes with slow motion and other nonsense the film might only be about twenty-minutes long.
I was hoping to like this one. It failed to meet just about any expectation. Skip it.