I’ve stated recently that there is always going to be a market for horror in film. It’s a sadistic pastime that a lot of people enjoy and a state of mind most people don’t experience in their day to day: simulated terror. Most of us won’t be brutally murdered by a werewolf or eaten alive by a zombie which is fine (I guess…) but then there’s the more technical, psychological that exists in the genre. The stuff that really gets under your skin, think The Thing, Crash or The Blair Witch Project. A personal favourite of mine is The Exorcist 3, a detective thriller wrapped in the paranormal which just gets increasingly violent and pessimistic until its crescendos into a finale that literally opens a gate to hell.  

Oz Perkins isn’t a newcomer to this genre, his father Anthony was after all the star of what is considered the prototype of these types of films, Norman Bates in Hitchcock’s Psycho. He’s made headway in the past decade on the indie scene with his films The Blackcoats Daughter and Gretel and Hanzel really showcasing his voice and continually proving he knows what he’s doing. Longlegs is his biggest film to date and his first collaboration with Nicolas Cage playing a serial murderer being tracked down by a newcomer FBI agent (Maika Monroe) as she slowly descends down into a titular heart of darkness. If that sounds like the outline to a Silence of The Lambs rip-off you should work in film marketing because that’s what Longlegs is being touted as. 

If there’s anyone this film owes a debt to its Stephen King. The film has a big supernatural undertone and without spoiling anything there’s an unexplainable method of killing being used that wouldn’t be out of place in something like Mr. Mercedes. Another clear influence is David Lynch; the FBI of Longlegs wouldn’t go amiss in Twin Peaks and whole look and feel of the set design is very reminiscent of Fire Walk With Me. All that being said Longlegs is not a hits parade of its influences, its hold its own quite well. 

The film looks great, the lighting has contrast of muted and saturated colours that really stand out as the movie  progresses. The editing is top notch with a lot of weird, surreal cuts stuffed in-between incredibly well executed  scares, this film knows how to make you jump. It also knows its suspense. The production design makes its  locations look creepy without much effort. The FBI corridors look abandoned, farmhouses are in disrepair. Any  location that looks tranquil or welcoming is soon broken by tension or violence represented by splats of  crimson, this film takes no prisoners.  

It’s all well-made too which is a shame because I think the movie is let down it’s writing. I may need a second  or third watch to fully grasp what’s being said here but as it stands there’s some very convenient plot stuff that  took me out of it along with a weird sci-fi concept of that is left to the wayside as the film progressively  becomes more gruesome and nihilistic I thought it was going to be the main focus, it was not. 

The performances are good, very good in fact. Monroe is a fitting lead who matches the surreal tone of the film,  the rest of the supporting cast only add to this. Then there’s the star of the show, Nic Cage does his Nic Cage  shtick which cements how creepy his character is. He’s used sparingly throughout the film but I just wish he toned it down just a tad more than he does. Having a more consistently softspoken and gentle character would  have really amped up how disturbing the climax of this film is but hey he’s Nicolas Cage.  

Perkins next film is a Stephen King adaptation so it’s fitting his most recent work has a flavour of the master in  there. He’s a talented craftsman at the height of his powers with Longlegs being peak psycho-horror at its best.

Rating 4/5

  • Directed by: Oz Perkins
  • Written by: Matt Greenhalgh
  • Starring: Nicolas Cage and Maika Monroe
  • Runtime: 1hr 41min
  • Rated: R (US) | 16 (IE)
  • Released: July 12th, 2024

Review by Marcus Rochford.

Longlegs Trailer