Longlegs Review

Osgood Perkins’s Longlegs is one of the most atmospheric and unsettling horror films in recent memory.

PLOT: A newly minted FBI Agent (Maika Monroe) winds up becoming embroiled in the pursuit of a serial killer named Longlegs, with ties to the occult.

REVIEW: Seeing Longlegs at a 10 am press screening was pretty wild. When you’re a film critic, you get used to seeing these kinds of ultra-dark, nihilistic horror movies at a deceptively sunny time of the day. Heck, I’ll never forget watching Ari Aster’s Hereditary at the ungodly hour of 830 am at the Sundance Film Festival one day, and, after being badly shaken by the terror onscreen, walking out the door to a sunny festival full of young folks in ski jackets happily going about their business.

Longlegs was a similar experience. Osgood Perkins, the son of the iconic Psycho star Anthony Perkins, has crafted one of the darkest, most nihilistic horror movies I’ve seen in years. As the credits rolled, a fellow critic turned to me and asked me, “dude, did we just see a classic?” While it’s too early to say, I nevertheless found myself deeply shaken by this nightmarish thriller.

However, your enjoyment (if that’s even the right word) of Longlegs depends on going on in relatively fresh, so to avoid spoilers, I’m going to stick to only the barebones elements of the plot, as previously revealed by Neon. The movie is divided up into chapters, and somewhere around chapter three, the movie takes a hard left and turns into something quite different than what the studio is selling – to my eventual delight.

As it is, Longlegs is a slow-burn, with it being character and atmosphere-driven. One could classify it as part of the new wave of elevated horror, with Perkins, who’s already made a name for himself in indie horror with his previous films, including I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, taking a huge leap forward. This will put him in the upper echelon of genre directors, with the film proficient in the same way something like Se7en or Silence of the Lambs was, although Longlegs ultimately has less in common with either film than you might think.

Maika Monroe has another great part as an uneasy FBI agent named Lee Harker, who occasionally finds herself almost supernaturally attuned to the crime scenes she investigates, with her boss, another agent played by Blair Underwood, calling her “half psychic.” Monroe’s been the darling of indie horror for years thanks to The Guest, and It Follows, with her delivering a largely unseen but excellent performance in last year’s God is a Bullet. She plays Harker as quiet and unassuming (and possibly on the spectrum), with her cold and collected at the various horrific crime scenes she investigates, making you think there’s more to her than meets the eye. 

Underwood ably supports her as a warm family man agent who tries to get her to open up a bit. At the same time, Alicia Witt delivers a knockout performance as Harker’s devoutly religious mother. Indeed, Longlegs should reestablish Witt as an A-level character actor, with her role ultimately proving to be one of the movie’s most unforgettable elements.

As for Nicolas Cage, Neon has been careful not to give away his look or voice, but suffice it to say this is the actor as you’ve never seen him. How can I best describe him? Imagine a satanic, hideous seventies glam rocker. Cage seems to relish playing such an evil character, but to dig more into his performance would be a disservice to viewers, as, again, you need to go in fresh.

Another element of the movie that needs to be singled out is the incredible production design and art direction, which make this one of the most atmospheric horror films in recent memory. The sparse score by Zilgi, about whom I could find very little information online, is appropriately dread-inducing.

To note, as far as legitimately scares go, Longlegs, by design, is a slow burn. Rather than knock you over the head with moments designed to make you jump, the movie slowly builds a sense of dread, which becomes incredibly potent as it comes to its horrifying conclusion. Once the credits rolled, I found myself surprisingly shaken up by what I’d just seen, and it’s a film I’ll need to chew on in the coming weeks. Expect this one to make major waves among horror fans when it opens on July 12th. Will it be considered a new classic? Time will tell, but for me, this was a pretty dazzling piece of work. 

Longlegs Maika Monroe

Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/longlegs-review/