Longlegs Review: Nicolas Cage delivers an unhinged performance in this demonic thriller


Osgood Perkins' chilling serial killer thriller brings pure terror to your doorstep.

Blog post by Rachael Harper on July 24, 2024

Filmmaker Osgood Perkins started making movies with The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015), which put a unique, gender-swapped, slightly devilish twist on the Psycho films that his father, actor Anthony Perkins, was famous for. He continued with the eerie ghost story I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House (2016) and the feminist fairy tale adaptation Gretel & Hansel (2020). His newest film, Longlegs, is most similar to his first movie (and even has a brief appearance from actress Kiernan Shipka), but it stands out on its own. Like all of his movies, Longlegs revolves around a female lead character.

Taking inspiration from films like Silence of the Lambs, Seven, and Cure, this movie plays with the viewer's expectations and keeps them guessing. The title's connection to both 'daddy' and a predatory spider-like figure will become clear as the story unfolds.

In the movie 'Cuckoo', Longlegs (played by Nicolas Cage in a wild performance) playfully teases a young girl named Lauren Acala in the snow. The scene is set in the early 1970s and is shown in a unique Academy ratio with rounded corners. As the film shifts to the mid-1990s, a more standard wide-screen format is used, with occasional flashbacks to the past shown in the original squared-off frame. These flashbacks resemble old home movies, highlighting the dysfunctional dynamics within seemingly normal family settings. The film even features a family with the last name 'Camera'.

When rookie FBI Special Agent Lee Harker (played by Maika Monroe) is found to have a special gift of clairvoyant intuition, she is teamed up with family man Agent Carter (Blair Underwood) to track down the serial killer known as Longlegs. This killer has been on the loose for many years, leaving behind cryptic messages at gruesome scenes of domestic murder-suicides. Despite lack of evidence of Longlegs' presence at the scenes, Lee follows a string of strange clues left specifically for her by the killer. These clues eventually lead her closer to her own home, where her religious mother Ruth (Alicia Witt) holds onto haunting memories.

In this blog section, the writer discusses how a mix of hidden messages, eerie dolls, and growing unease in a film subtly hints at themes of abuse, manipulation, and trauma. Despite these underlying themes, the film doesn't solely focus on them. Instead, it captures a feeling of irrationality and strangeness, where everything seems unsettling. This eerie atmosphere is achieved through various elements such as the sound design, camera angles, the lead actress's performance, clever editing choices, and unique production design. The film fully commits to portraying something that goes beyond logical explanation, leaving viewers both captivated and disturbed by the unsettling experiences depicted on screen.

A forensic investigator found a metal ball in a lifelike homunculus at a crime scene from a cold case. The investigator described it as empty, which reflects the overall theme of the film where investigative reasoning clashes with a sense of meaninglessness. Despite this bleakness, a type of pure evil emerges in the story, leaving a lasting impact on viewers just like the metal sphere embedded in the homunculus. The characters in the film are manipulated by others, leading to a sense of confinement and manipulation, ultimately revealing Perkins as the true mastermind and antagonist.

The movie Longlegs will premiere in theaters across the UK and Ireland on July 12th.

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