Apocalyptic Cult Madness

Director Rich Ragsdale’s The Long Night is a taut mash-up of Southern Gothic lunacy with The Strangers, The Lords of Salem, and a small dash of Rosemary’s Baby. Effectively frightening, the R-rated horror offers edge without going over the top.

Appearances by Deborah Kara Unger and Jeff Fahey (you’ll know him when you see him) are judiciously sprinkled into a fine lead performance by Scout Taylor-Compton carrying most of the load. The indie shocker likely won’t win over mainstream audiences. Genre fans on the other hand should lap up the menacing scares and twisted lore. There’s a lot to like if satanic cults plotting dark eldritch horrors are your thing.

The world needs more pure horror flicks like The Long Night without post-modern irony undermining everything

New Yorker Grace (Scout Taylor-Compton) returns to her childhood roots in the deep South, looking for her long-lost biological parents. Tagging along is her preppy, snooty boyfriend Jack (Nolan Gerard Funk), clearly frustrated he’s spending a weekend in the rural backwoods.

The couple’s vacation quickly takes a terrifying turn in the isolated setting. A sinister cult of devil worshippers emerge from the night, threatening Grace and Jack. An apocalyptic prophecy may hold all the answers to the deepening mystery of the couple’s life-or-death situation. I guess those pentagrams appearing all over the place actually did mean something.

Deborah Kara Unger and character actor Jeff Fahey have small but important roles, providing critical moments in the narrative. For someone with such a strong Hollywood filmography, Deborah Kara Unger approaches her scenes with breathtaking intensity. The actress could have a long career in horror if she wanted.

The F/X are low-budget and the indie production is occasionally rough around the edges. That being said, Ragsdale has crafted an intriguing slice of atmospheric horror. The protagonists are thrust into a derivative but suspenseful tale. The Long Night maintains a palpable feeling of dread and discomfort, the hallmark of excellent storytelling in horror.

Scout Taylor-Compton has been around the genre block fairly often in her young career. She gives an appealing, enticing performance as The Long Night’s primary character. The movie simply wouldn’t work without it, reminiscent of a young Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween.

The wild, unexpected ending leaves audiences wanting more with room for a possible sequel. There’s enough in the backstory which could be a springboard for more disturbing fun down the road. The Long Night delivers suspense and visceral frights in a tidy package through its capable cast, moody sound, and sharp tone. The world needs more pure horror flicks like The Long Night without post-modern irony undermining everything.

Video

The Long Night isn’t a stunner on Blu-ray, furnished from a serviceable but underwhelming digital intermediate. The dark cinematography’s opaque visuals emphasize the picturesque Southern Gothic setting with intermittent success. The video reflects an indie film made quickly and cheaply.

Well Go’s AVC encoding is replete with banding and light posterization. While clarity is decent, it’s a flat and muddy 2.40:1 presentation needing better saturation and inkier black levels.

Director Rich Ragsdale clearly went for a certain aesthetic in The Long Night with limited saturation outside of select scenes. The 1080p video offers average definition with uneven depth for a new production. There’s some attempt by the cinematographer going after a more film-like appearance despite using digital cameras. It doesn’t quite work out. This is a project that would have benefited from 35mm shooting.

Picture quality isn’t always a top priority on smaller projects like The Long Night given time and financial limitations. There’s nothing egregiously poor in the video but there’s little pop or eye candy.

Audio

The 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio is a haunting affair with immersive sound design. There are a couple of memorable Americana songs in the movie with folk tinges, setting the tone. Providing effective scares, the surround channels are smartly used when necessary. There’s some nice channel separation in the mix and excellent balance across the front soundstage.

Dialogue reproduction is smooth without affecting the engaging score’s dynamics. For indie horror, a rather well-done sonic presentation perfectly suited for a decent home theater.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font inside the scope presentation. A secondary 2.0 Dolby Digital soundtrack is available.

Extras

The disc is coded for Region A. There’s a director’s commentary and a few featurettes worth a look.

Director’s Commentary – Rich Ragsdale sits down with The Long Night’s editor Jay Gartland and co-screenwriter Rob Sheppe in this fairly forthcoming chat, hashing out the arduous production. The movie’s limitations and challenges are highlighted, mentioning when things went wrong and went right.

The Long Night Trailer (02:05 in HD)

Unwelcome Trailer (02:17 in HD)

6:45 Trailer (01:40 in HD)

Row 19 Trailer (02:08 in HD)

“The Loop” Short Film (07:40 in HD) – Director Rich Ragsdale delivers this fun short about a youngster becoming part of a horror movie.

Shooting The Birthing (05:44 in HD) – A behind-the-scenes featurette on one of the film’s pivotal scenes.

The Look (05:59 in HD) – Cinematographer Pierluigi Malavasi discusses working with director Rich Ragsdale and their approach on this project.

The Score (06:41 in HD) – Musician Sherri Chung delves into her history with Rich Ragsdale and how she came up with the sound for The Long Night.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For more information on how we handle all review material, please visit our about us page.

The Long Night
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras

Movie

A nicely-crafted indie frightfest for genre fans with surprise appearances by Deborah Kara Unger and character actor Jeff Fahey leaving their mark.

Overall
4
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User Review
3 (2 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 44 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: