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‘The Long Night’ review: Stylish horror movie at its best when it keeps it simple

Atmospheric and stylish horror.

The Long Night is constantly walking the fine line between fun horror movie and being too derivative. Grace (Scout-Taylor Compton) leaves New York and returns to her southern home to search for her family. Once she and her boyfriend Jack (Nolan Gerard Funk) arrive, they encounter a cult who are trying to fulfill an ancient prophecy. It definitely looks scary, but is it any good?

It is a familiar tale that has the elements of some of the genre’s most beloved films. Director Rich Ragsdale also succeeds in creating a foreboding atmosphere. There is a constant sense of danger in The Long Night and the cult members are effectively terrifying – the sinister masks and dark robes are both here. There is also a strong sense of urgency that adds to the tension.

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As the plot progresses, it becomes more obvious just how little there is to it. The opening moments of The Long Night are easily its finest. Before long, it is leaning on horror tropes to carry its story  instead of just supplementing it. This may be most noticeable in the two leads. While both actors do a fine job with the material, it is hard to actually care about them.

Horror movies can get away with underdeveloped characters. In rare cases, they can even be unlikable without ruining things. But, under any circumstances, there must be a charm that makes their plight watchable. There is none to be found in The Long Night. Even worse, Jack will quickly become annoying to some. He is from New York, so anyone from Texas is obviously a scary redneck.

It may have been better that the film tried to keep things as simple as possible. When it tries to add another layer to Grace and Jack’s relationship (his parents do not approve of her in another trope that teases at commentary about classes), nothing comes of it. The Long Night is a stylish horror movie that is best suited for those who want to keep their horror simple.

The Long Night opens in select theaters and will be available digitally February 4

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