Monday, September 12, 2022

I'm Really More of a Morning Apocalypse Person

Apocalypse cults are a lot less charming than they used to be than back in our days of optimism, but that doesn't mean I don't welcome movies about them!

Quick Plot: New York-based Grace is excited to finally have a possible clue into her mysterious past. Having grown up in foster care, she's never met a biological family member, but a South Carolinian private investigator may have a lead. 

After a not-on-the-way-at-all side trip to the Hamptons to meet her boyfriend Jack's family, the pair heads down south to the investigator's sprawling plantation for answers. He's not home, but by nightfall, they're far from alone: a cloak-clad death cult has assembled outside, demanding Grace fulfill her apocalyptic destiny. 

There's not much more to The Long Night. Jeff Fahey pops by for a few minutes, Debra Kara Unger for a few more. Director Rich Ragsdale establishes some grand home invasion-by-way-of-folk horror energy, but if there's one adjective to describe Mark Young and Robert Sheppe's story, it's "unambitious."

Everything basically unfolds how you would expect from reading a one-sentence synopsis and glancing at the poster. Bad cellular reception, blood drinking rituals, goat masked murderers with no discernible identity, and so on.

The only real surprise The Long Night packs is its absolute lack of surprises. I'll spoil a plot detail to illustrate (so skip the next two paragraphs if you have any interest in watching). Early on, Jack is established as a WASPy legacy brat who oozes old money snobbery. When the cultists quietly offer him a way out in exchange for Grace, we spend the next twenty minutes eagerly waiting for him to make his heel turn. It's truthfully the most suspenseful part of the movie. doesn't pay off. Jack plays the loyal boyfriend to the end, never really showing any of the conflict of conscience we were expecting to find. Sure, it's nice (I guess?) that not EVERY well-off white guy in a horror film has to be a jerk, but ... well... it would have at least given the movie a pop. 

Instead, everything flows the way a movie about a couple being hunted by a folk doomsday cult would. Sure, the ending has neat possibilities, but not surprisingly, it seems content to merely suggest something bigger than quietly walk away. 

High Points
Scout Taylor-Compton seems to have made a successful career out of the high end of low budget horror, and The Long Night makes a good case for it. She has the perfect kind of screen presence for this kind of movie

Low Points
... and yet, even with Compton's likable performance, we don't know a single detail about Grace that gives us any insight into who she might be

Lessons Learned (The American South Edition)
Being polite is a southern thing

The Klan kills people, not cats 

They don't teach southern rituals at Princeton

Like most new acquisitions on Shudder, The Long Night is a good-looking genre film. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have much on its agenda. You could do worse than give it your eyeballs for 100 minutes, but six months from now, you probably won't remember a thing about it. 

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