Longlegs – REVIEW

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Longlegs - the best horror film of 2024?

The Silence of the Lambs opened the door for serial killers movies many of which were instantaneously forgettable even as you were watching them but others like David Fincher’s masterful ‘Seven’ were excellent. To that genre of genuinely creepy and unnerving serial killer thrillers can be added ‘Longlegs’. A nervy prologue sets the tone as a young girl Lee Harker  (Lauren Acala) encounters the title character Longlegs outside her family home on a snowy day. It is part of the films genius that we never see him with the framing of the shot keeping his face out of sight leaving only his falsetto voice  all in 4×3 framing and it’s a technique that is used for flashbacks as the film progresses. The prologue ends with the film opening out into its letterbox wide screening framing and the title card in an almost neon blood red that burns its name into your retina.

Fast forward 25 years and Lee (Maika Monroe) is now a rookie FBI agent investigating a series of brutal murders over the years where ten families have been murdered by the husband of the household using weapons in the house before committing suicide.  She and her colleague are sent to talk to a residents in a  nearby community where she immediately identifies a residence  as housing the killer and her suggestion that they call for back up is dismissed by her colleague with the sort of arrogant over confidence not seen since influencers began parading around on film premiere red carpets. The incident sees Lee identified by the bureau as having heightened intuitive abilities and finding herself assigned to the case (and seemingly the only  one now investigating) and she commits absolutely to it. Lee seems to have little else going on in her life with only her medicated mother that she speaks to by phone whose only concern is that that Lee says her prayers each day to protect her from evil. It’s a hint that we’re going to be entering into the supernatural.

Lee pores over the cryptic coded notes left at the scene that are signed Longlegs which see her crack the code a little too easily but also connects the reason as to just why the girls in each family are butchered  all have birthdays on the 14th of each month with the murders falling either on that date or several days either side. February the 14th is enough of a nightmare without a serial killer thrown into the mix.

The first two acts are deeply unsettling with the killer’s face always kept just out of reach and a number of flash frames and quick cuts to further disturb. With the film split into three chapters we do finally get to see Nicolas Cage as Longlegs a sort of Bette Davis /Tiny Tim hybrid and, like Boris Johnson, should be kept away from women.  Cage is unrecognisable and the studio missed a trick by putting his name on the poster. Something that Seven avoided with Kevin Spacey, because it would have had a huge impact seeing the credits roll and realising that the on screen creep was Cage. Nonetheless much as Cage has a reputation for bonkers on screen histrionics it’s a style that is brilliantly suited to the role here and is the stuff of nightmares long after the film has finished.

As a police procedural it does become far fetched by the final act but Longlegs is compelling and often as disturbing a film as you’ll see all year. Grisly, grim, grotesque but with many moments of greatness.

related feature : Maika Monroe in ‘It Follows’ – disc review

related feature : director Ti West introduces his film, ‘MaXXXine’ starring Mia Goth

Here’s the Longlegs trailer……

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