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Longlegs ★★★★★



Released: 12th July 2024

Director: Osgood Perkins

Starring: Maika Monroe, Nicolas Cage, Alicia Witt, Blair Underwood, Kiernan Shipka

Soul shaking, all consuming, utterly devastating and profoundly moving are only glimpses that touch the surface, of what I can describe as a work of a lifetime. An amalgamation of formal mastery and humanist intervention, Osgood ‘Oz’ Perkins’ Longlegs is one of the greatest pieces of work one might ever set their eyes and ears upon.

After an unholy barrage of satanic scripture, psychometric code, petrifying teasers and gasp-inducing footage of FBI Agent Lee Harker, performed entrancingly well by Maika Monroe, as she flicks through testaments and books on the occult, and appearing in different states of catatonia in all of the marketing materials used in the promotion of Longlegs, one could never be prepared enough one for the on-screen devastation, for which they are about to receive.

From the moment Longlegs begins, the spectator is in the hands of a director working at the highest of their abilities. Deep within the curved, rectangular aspect ratio (most recently utilised by the likes of Hylnur Pálmason in Godland and Gaspar Noé in Vortex) a deep red begins to slowly cross dissolve into the snowy marshes of Oregon. The 35mm photography from Andres Arochi captures an immediate texture that sets a precedent for the rest of the narrative. Whites clash with the dark reds and blacks of American suburbia, only further accentuated by the foliage and natural environment. Oz is a master of atmosphere, demonstrated exceptionally in his previous filmic work The Blackcoats Daughter (also known as February) and The Pretty Little Thing That Lives in the House. There isn’t a contemporary filmmaker who steeps to such dark and prevailing places when it comes to mise en scène, shot composition or giving his protagonists such a crumbling sense of autonomy and navigation in the worlds that they are a part of. This very atmosphere pervades every single frame, as the narrative bounces back and forth in time between all of the terrifying ongoings and brutal murders that take place in suburban Oregon.

With a satanic and occult through line within them, Lee Harker becomes consumed with the horrific clues left by a killer known as the titular Longlegs, played ferociously and malevolently by Nicolas Cage. She labels her familial attraction and supernatural magnetism to the case, as feeling like “someone is constantly watching her from behind, tapping on her shoulder.” This overwhelming and evil ooze, leaks into her own subconscious and sense of self, tearing apart Harker’s understanding of the world around her and where she stands in relation to it all.

Cage’s Longlegs is beyond perverse, utterly haunting, but maybe, and most terrifyingly… human. A messenger, a pioneer seeking to dispose with American rhetoric and ideologies with monstrous malady.

It’s terribly difficult to even write about a work like Longlegs, not only on the basis of not remotely hinting at anything within this monolithic piece of work, but due to how cosmically profound and emotionally arresting it is. A truly all consuming and anxiety provoking audio-visual experience, curated by a director who is at the absolute mountain top of film curation and exhibition.

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