THE LONG NIGHT (aka THE COVEN, 2022)
Directed by Rich Ragsdale.
Written by Mark Young, Robert Sheppe.
Starring Scout Taylor-Compton, Nolan Gerard Funk, Deborah Kara Unger, Jeff Fahey, Kevin Ragsdale, King Orba, Erika Stasiuleviciute, Juniper Ghazi
Find out more about this film here!
Grace (Scout Taylor-Compton) has been paying an investigator to look into her past. She’s an orphan and has no idea who her parents are, but a call from the P.I. offers up a clue which sends Grace and her boyfriend Jack (Nolan Gerard Funk) to a Southern plantation in the middle of nowhere for answers. Instead, they encounter lots of snakes and find themselves surrounded by cultists who claim Grace is to be the vessel for the ancient deity they worship.
THE LONG NIGHT has a great setup. While the story gets Grace and Jack to the plantation in a cliched way, Taylor-Compton and Funk are likable enough to care about their fates, even though the couple is fighting as they’ve just come from a disastrous visit with Jack’s parents. Taylor-Compton has been making the rounds in D-grade horror films, but she is quite talented. She seems to like the horror genre, has one hell of a scream, is easy on the eyes, and seems to really put her all into every role she does, no matter how small the film. Here’s hoping her strong performance in THE LONG NIGHT leads to bigger and better things for the spunky actress.
It’s also great to see Jeff Fahey in a very small cameo and Deborah Kara Unger in a bit more substantial role as one of the cultists. Unger has an alien-like quality about her that makes every role stand out and Fahey is just always fun to see.
While the acting is strong and the lead in is intriguing. The main problem with THE LONG NIGHT is that there really isn’t a lot of places for it to go. It’s, for the most part, a single location film. And while a lot seems to happen in the time spent on the plantation, the film left me wanting more and to see what happens next. This feels more like an origin story than a complete film as the real shit seems like it would hit the fan right after the credits roll. Sure, Grace undergoes quite the ordeal, but the end left me hanging uncomfortably.
One thing that did stand out in THE LONG NIGHT was the music, score, and sound design. The sounds encountered in the opening moments is reminiscent of the beginning of THE SHINING, and as the film went on, there were some other audio risks taken that set this film apart from the rest. It really succeeds in setting up a moody feel to the atmospheric Southern landscape. A few drone shots at the beginning also add to the size and scope of the film. While the opening drone shot has become quite the cliché as of late, these shots have some unique landscape to feature.
I can’t wholeheartedly recommend THE LONG NIGHT as it’s ending left me wanting, but there is some solid gore and a palpable atmosphere of dread going on throughout. The acting is better than what one usually expects from this type of film. It’s just that a lot of the potential hinted at in the engrossing moments is not achieved by the last reel.