Sometimes, a film obviously has “Movie Envy”.
“Starcrash” wanted to be “Star Wars”.
“Mac and Me” wanted to be “E.T.”
“West Side Story” (2021) wanted to be “West Side Story” (1961)
Never works out, especially if you aim high.
“The Long Night” (2022) feels like it wants to be “Race with the Devil” (1975). Without the vehicle stunts.
Grace and Jack are engaged, in love, and on the verge to traveling into the “South” in an effort to discover Grace’s past. Seems she grew up in a foster home and has no idea who her parents were. Some fellow has been doing research and found some interesting things.
The two, big-city type folks take off to stay with this guy, Frank, who lives in the big middle of nowhere. Instead of meeting him, they find the house empty and surrounded by folks in weird masks and torches. Most horror fans can see where this is heading.
When we are introduced to our main characters, they are not readily likeable. Actually, they never become likeable, even if you can relate to their situation. She is a cypher, not knowing her past; he is a smug rich kid with a wealthy family. Even better, they are preparing to head out into the countryside to meet and stay at the house of a guy that they have, apparently, never met before whose history with them is vague.
As the opening scene closes, the boyfriend says that everything is gonna be okay. Instead of cutting to the opening credits, we see our female lead filthy and screaming in a clip from later in the film, just to let us know that everything is NOT okay. Not sure for whom that clip was intended as the audience is expecting things to be very not okay; no need to belabor the point.
“The Long Night” uses a lot of filler that would work in an overly-earnest heavy metal video or appear to be artwork of a Goth artist posted on the DeviantArt site. Other bits of filler intended to look classy and otherworldly include layering images, inverting images, mirroring images, and rotating the camera for no sensible purpose.
Required mention: There is a scene that has to be seen to be believed, as much of a cliché as that may sound. During one of the dream-like symbolic sequences, the audience is treated to The Cosmic Beaver. Basically, an unearthly light shining from intimate parts. The special effects are so cheese that it feels like being transported back to a movie made in 1973.
All Hail The Cosmic Beaver!!!!!!!!
Acting may be the strongest point “The Long Night” has going for it, and two actors are the primary reasons for this. Jeff Fahey and Deborah Kara Unger are character actors who can be relied on to deliver a good performance no matter how bad the direction or script. Both make the best with the bare bones they are given here.
Scout Taylor-Compton tries, but her character does little more than shriek, cry, and recoil. She kind of reminds one of Owen Wilson – bland but functional and always better off with little to no dialogue due to delivering lines through their nasal passages. Nolan Gerard Funk does an adequate job of being an arrogant dudebro, but the writers did not think to give him any depth.
Some comments on this film compare it to “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968). Not sure why, unless it is because of a birth scene that may or may not be symbolic. If it is not literal, then there is no connection. If the birth sequence is literal, then this film would connect to either “The Omen – Part 2” or “Part 3”.
“The Long Night” just does not rise to the potential the concept can offer. The filmmakers may have been going for something marketable to a wider audience, which is unlikely to happen given the current horrific state of the world.
Maybe the filmmakers could have made two versions – This artsy version and then a straight-up exploitation version with amped up action and horror. Then, let the audience decide which wins.