THE LONG NIGHT Movie Poster | ©2022 Well Go USA Entertainment

THE LONG NIGHT Movie Poster | ©2022 Well Go USA Entertainment

Rating: R
Stars: Scout Taylor-Compton, Nolan Gerard Funk, Kevin Ragsdale, Deborah Kara Unger, Jeff Fahey
Writers: Mark Young and Robert Sheppe
Director: Rich Ragsdale
Distributor: Well Go USA Entertainment
Release Date: February 4, 2022

 THE LONG NIGHT has a title with a double meaning. The immediate one is the period suffered by young couple Grace Covington (Scout Taylor-Compton) and Jack Cabot (Nolan Gerald Funk). The other one is a prophesied event.

Grace and Jack ditch New York City to first visit his parents, then go to stay in an old, isolated Southern plantation house (THE LONG NIGHT was shot primarily in South Carolina).

We hear about though don’t see the introduction to Jack’s family. They are wealthy, were evidently dismissive of orphaned Grace, and Grace feels Jack didn’t stand up for her with them. So, the trip is already off to a bad start.

We learn that Jack is accompanying Grace on this trip because she wants to find out about her roots. The homeowner, Frank Caldwell, has told Grace he’s found out some interesting information.

Frank isn’t there to greet them, but he’s left a key on the porch. The place is spacious, though it’s oddly decorated. There are also strange BLAIR WITCH-like totems in the surrounding woods. There also turn out to be some very strange people hereabouts.

It’s a little difficult to quantify THE LONG NIGHT. Director Rich Ragsdale creates a good, ominous look in the forest, especially at night. The house is a little more mundane-looking – viewers may split the difference between Jack’s instinctive unease and Grace’s repeated insistence that this is just Southern individuality.

Taylor-Compton’s performance is definitely a plus. The actor depicts primal rage with visceral power, and she also seems properly terrified in the sequences that call for it. Deborah Kara Unger delivers some expository speeches with sincerity, and Jeff Fahey brings some welcome color to his scenes.

The score by Sherri Chung is evocative, using plaintive pop ballads, strings and something that sounds like a zither to add to the mournful atmosphere.

The screenplay by Mark Young and Robert Sheppe is on the wobbly side. They break the story into chapters, which isn’t a problem, per say, but seems unnecessary.

The filmmakers are a little too persuasive in setting up Grace and Jack’s relationship troubles. What’s happening here isn’t deep enough to sustain characters who we don’t really want to see together. Further, we’re too far ahead of our leads in terms of much of what’s happening here.

But what’s more problematic is THE LONG NIGHT’s mythos. If filmmakers have access to a old plantation location, they may as well make the most of it: if there’s access to production value, have at it.

However, it seems odd to speak of the place’s great evil, bring up Native Americans, and then leave out any mention of Black people who suffered in the area. Even odder is the notion that the evil has been dormant for four centuries – what horrors was it prevented from unleashing that slavery did not?

The single most memorable aspect of THE LONG NIGHT is one specific shot that won’t be described here. Suffice to say that there is a profoundly unconventional light source late in the film that may distract some viewers from everything that follows.

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