Review: The Long Night Is Standard-Issue Direct-to-Streaming Horror Fare

Marking the first feature from composer and music video director Rich Ragsdale, The Long Night concerns a young New York couple on the verge of taking big steps in their life together. Grace (horror siren Scout Taylor-Compton) has spent most of her adult life searching for her real parents, whom an investigator believes he’s tracked down somewhere in “the south.” She embarks on a road trip with her long-time boyfriend Jack (Nolan Gerard Funk), and he decides the trip is a great excuse to take a detour to the Hamptons to introduce Grace to his snooty parents. Although we’re spared the actual meeting, we are treated to the ugly aftermath, during which it’s made clear that Jack sat back while his parents belittled Grace, and now she’s having doubts about their relationship, as she should.

They arrive at the home of the investigator, who told them just to come in and make themselves at home if he wasn’t there, which he isn’t, and before too long Grace starts seeing things (mostly snakes). By the end of the first night, the couple is being tormented by cloaked figures holding torches and wearing animal skulls. Are they simply a death cult, or have they come to fulfill a centuries-old apocalyptic prophecy that is perhaps not coincidentally tied to Grace’s arrival?

Working from a screenplay by Mark Young and Robert Sheppe, The Good Night takes more than a little while to build up a head of steam and actually be something more than just spooky stalkers and cheap jump scares. What’s going on is never really a mystery, which makes the film’s few big reveals sort of pointless, but in the final 30 minutes or so, the special-effects budget kicks in and things get bloody and freaky. Jeff Fahey shows up for his obligatory cameo as the investigator’s brother, who shows up to the house looking for his missing sibling and confronts the cult head on. And the bewitching Deborah Kara Unger makes an appearance to deliver some much needed exposition, which may clear up exactly what the stakes are for the world at large.

Taylor-Compton (probably best known for her work in the two Rob Zombie Halloween movies) is quite good here, even if she’s working against a wonky plot that doesn’t quite deliver the nightmare fuel folk horror it thinks it does. With his highly punchable face, Funk as Jack is a little too smarmy for his own good, and I’m still trying to figure out why Grace decided to stay with him after the incident with his parents. That being said, he does attempt to keep her safe when the shit goes down, so I guess one of the film’s goals was a redemption arc for him (Why? I don’t know.) The Long Night doesn’t quite stick its landing either, with an ending that could potentially have global consequences landing with a resounding thud. This is your standard-issue, C-grade Shudder offering that is fairly skippable, unless you count yourself a Scout Taylor-Compton devotee.

The film is now streaming on Shudder.

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Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet
Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for
Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and
filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a
frequent contributor at /Film (SlashFilm.com) and Backstory Magazine.
He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently
owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for
the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer
for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the
city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.

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