As The Long Night opens Grace (Scout Taylor-Compton, An Intrusion, Apache Junction) and her boyfriend Jack (Nolan Gerard Funk, The House at the End of the Street, Truth or Dare) are hanging out in their NYC apartment. She’s not a native New Yorker though, she’s from the South. Exactly where is a bit of a mystery as she never knew her family. So when she gets a call from Frank saying he has a promising lead on her ancestry they drive down to see him. Thankfully he told her where he hides his spare key because when they arrive he’s nowhere to be found.
It doesn’t take long before they’re seeing strange altar-like things in the woods and strange figures in the distance. And snakes that seem to appear and disappear. Jack has the good sense to realize something is very wrong and decides they’re leaving, but needless to say, his high-end German car suddenly decides not to be so reliable and refuses to start.
Director Rich Ragsdale (Ghost House, The Curse of El Charro) and writers Mark Young (Tooth and Nail, Feral) and Robert Sheppe get The Long Night off to a refreshingly fast start, throwing various unsettling images and a nasty scene involving a bare foot and broken glass at us before the cult shows up at the half-hour mark. Granted I had no idea what was going on, but I wasn’t bored.
The Long Night is long on bizarre imagery and jump scares, but apart from the obvious fact that this all has something to do with Grace’s family and childhood we’re not told much until around the hour mark. And I give them credit for going for something different when things are revealed, the cult worships Uktena, a Native American spirit whose only other film appearance was the kaiju feature Uktena: The Horned Monstrosity.
That said, when we get a flashback to what I think is supposed to be Grace’s conception, the father certainly looks like the traditional goat-headed demon. And the beam of light emanating from her mother’s lady parts, whatever it was meant to be, is hysterically funny.
If you’re getting the idea that The Long Night is all over the place and a bit of a mess, you’re right. More than once it felt like they were working from a set of notes and making the rest up as they went along. So few details are filled in and so little is explained that the cult’s powers seem to be whatever the writers needed them to be at the moment and its prophesies were made up on the spot.
Despite that, I did find the first hour of The Long Night to be enjoyably energetic silliness as the characters try to hold the cultists at bay. There’s not much in the way of gore or effects but the various hallucinatory scenes and fast-paced action are preferable to people standing around talking. And, while he’s only around for a few minutes Fahey gives a fun performance as the missing host’s suspicious brother.
The last half hour drops the ball though, with what is supposed to be a shocking revelation that is anything but shocking and some Lovecraftian cosmic horror scenes that feel tacked on and out of place. And lots of screaming by Grace. She actually spends so much of the film screaming either in fear or rage that Scout Taylor-Compton was probably hoarse when filming ended.
While it misses its chance to be a truly memorable slice of cheese, The Long Night still delivers enough jumps to be worth a watch if you’re looking for some undemanding entertainment. Well Go USA will release The Long Night in select theatres and on Digital platforms on Friday, February 4th. You can check their website or Facebook page for more details.