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A Nightmarish Trip Through Hell – Longlegs (Film Review)

3 min read
Maika Monroe as Agent Lee Harker in Longlegs wearing a white blouse, grey trousers, and FBI badge while flecked with blood and appearing shocked

Picture credit: NEON

Longlegs is the film on everybody's lips for 2024. Neon's terrifying marketing campaign has had genre fans in a chokehold since it began, gifting us obscure clues and codes to crack for more information on the terrifying film. But, once solved, these cryptic tidbits of information have only led to more questions about Osgood Perkins' latest creation. Early screenings have seen the film labelled the scariest of the year, as well as some claiming to have been driven to tears by the horror within – so the bar has been set high ahead of its UK release on July 12.

Starring Nicolas Cage as the titular serial killer, Longlegs begins with FBI Agent Lee Harker (Maika Monroe) being assigned to a mysterious case following the death of her former partner on the job. Agent Carter (Blair Underwood) and Agent Browning (Michelle Choi-Lee) fill her in on the historic case, which spans 20 years and involves a number of families whose bodies have been staged to appear as if they were murder-suicides. But a clue has been left at each crime scene to suggest otherwise – a singular encoded letter signed by ‘Longlegs'. As Agent Harker delves deeper into the case and uncovers its occult origins, she discovers the crimes hit closer to home than she originally anticipated, dragging her into his twisted world.

From its bizarre title card featuring a T-Rex lyric to its startling use of symmetry, discordant music, and focus on heavy breathing, Perkins creates a palpable sense of dread that's suffocating. Sudden bursts of violence and screaming pierce through the ambient terror to shock, never allowing viewers a single moment of comfort. Given the subject matter, even the film's more comedic moments feel deranged, adding to the dense, terrible aura Longlegs possesses.

Like its marketing campaign, Longlegs patiently feeds audiences tiny morsels of information and plot threads, with enough to keep audiences gripped and engaged as Harker attempts to crack the case. Despite the varying subplots and clues scattered throughout the film, Perkins ties them together masterfully in a surreal and bonkers final act and, combined with a remarkable attention to detail that will reward repeat viewings, it will surely cement the film's place amongst the horror greats.

It Follows icon Maika Monroe is captivating as the highly intuitive and stone-cold detective Agent Harker, with her icy demeanour slowly fracaturing as the deplorable truth behind Longlegs' slayings comes to life. But this is truly Nicolas Cage's film. Despite his limited screen time, Cage has all eyes (reluctantly) on him as he shrieks, grins, kisses, and sings his way through a series of excruciating, goosebump-inducing scenes.

Whilst many may go into Longlegs expecting to be scared and disturbed, one of the film's most shocking aspects is the way it subverts expectations from the first act, slowly blossoming into an entirely different film altogether. While it may not be the scariest horror film of 2024, it will certainly be the most surprising.

Longlegs is a nightmarish trip through hell that hurtles full throttle to its spine-tingling conclusion. For those wanting to test their tolerance, it's a heart-racing, suffocating experience for viewers. Writer/director Osgood Perkins has created something that genuinely feels evil (or cursed), with its pitch-black humour, gnarly scenes of violence, and unrelenting sense of doom permeating each scene. Cage's unhinged performance, juxtaposed starkly with Monroe's unemotional detective makes for a hard to look away formula. One thing's for certain – Longlegs will not only be the most-anticipated horror film of 2024, it will surely be the most talked about for the next few years.

Longlegs is released in UK cinemas on July 12.