Review by Sean Boelman
At this point, Scout Taylor-Compton is basically the scream queen of modern straight-to-VOD horror movies, putting out more movies in a year than anyone this side of Nicolas Cage. The Long Night looked like it was going to be one of the better ones, but it’s really just another generic occult horror picture.
The film follows a woman who leaves the city with her boyfriend to return to her southern home in an attempt to reconnect with her past, only for a cult to begin to terrorize them as part of an ancient prophecy. It’s an enormously derivative movie, Rich Ragsdale’s competent direction being the only thing that saves this from total obscurity.
Mark Young and Robert Sheppe’s script is terribly generic. Take a bit of The Wicker Man, add a dash of Rosemary’s Baby, and fill the rest with every imaginable trope of the cult horror genre, and you have this derivative picture. Its biggest flaw is that it simply isn’t interesting, something which was unavoidable to an extent given how generic it is, but the least Young and Sheppe could have done is give it some energy.
The one good thing about the film’s writing is that it is mercifully short. The story feels like an excuse for some moderately creepy horror imagery, and that’s basically what we get. There’s basically no substance to the movie, with very little message to be found but perhaps more damningly, no emotional connection whatsoever.
It definitely would have helped if the character development in the film were a bit more distinctive, but what we get is a generic married couple with tensions boiling beneath the surface, and a mysterious cult leader with motivations that are vaguely superstitious and about as bland as they come.
Taylor-Compton is definitely the glue that holds this movie together. Even when her sole purpose is to look confused as scary stuff happens to her, she manages to command the screen in a mostly compelling way. Nolan Gerard Funk, on the other hand, simply looks as if he doesn’t know what he’s doing for much of the film.
There is some decently eerie imagery throughout the movie but it doesn’t add up to much. The cinematography by Pierluigi Malavasi is trying very hard to be good, and it occasionally is, but more often than not, it’s the filmmakers throwing a bunch of stuff to the wall to see what sticks. And the production design is lackluster, because why is the serpent cult wearing bovine skulls as headdresses?
The Long Night isn’t an outright bad movie, but it doesn’t stand out in a way that is perhaps more damning. Sometimes a film is more interesting if it does something wrong, and this one doesn’t do anything wrong — it just doesn’t do much right.
The Long Night is now available on VOD.