Star Rating:


Director: Oz Perkins

Actors: Maika Monroe, Blair Underwood, Alicia Witt, Nicolas Cage

Release Date: Friday 12th July 2024

Genre(s): Crime, Horror, Thriller

Running time: 101 minutes

Newly minted FBI agent Lee Harker (Maika Monroe) is assigned to a case involving a serial killer named Longlegs (Nicolas Cage), whose vicious murders have ties to Satanism and has successfully evaded capture for years. As the case progresses and the clues lead to fewer answers, Harker begins to unravel as the killer draws near - and brings with it a deeply personal revelation...

'Longlegs' is the kind of movie where, upon exiting the cinema, you'll feel a tightness in your chest from holding your breath so long.

Much of the marketing material for 'Longlegs' has zeroed in on comparisons to 'Silence of the Lambs', or Maika Monroe's heartbeat reaching 170BPM when she laid eyes on Nicolas Cage's heavy makeup for the first time. Yet for all of these valid comparisons and genuine reactions, 'Longlegs' is a movie that relies on very little. There's a sparseness to it in how director Osgood Perkins fills the lens with period details, yet the camera itself is frozen in fear and taking it all in. Your eyes are darting across the screen, trying desperately to catch a detail or a glimpse of something, but nothing comes until it does. The horrors in 'Longlegs' are apparent, but it's the manner in which they are slowly unfurled that makes it one of the most unsettling, disturbing movies in years.

Maika Monroe, now a dab hand at horrors and thrillers from her work in 'It Follows', Neil Jordan's 'Greta', and the hugely underrated 'Watcher', is on pitch perfect form as FBI agent Lee Harker. Monroe displays a truly authentic performance in playing someone who is utterly haunted by their lives, unable to connect emotionally, and locked into a path that will only end in one place. Alicia Witt, playing Monroe's on-screen mother, has a similarly committed portrayal and the scenes of them together are some of the most arresting in the movie. Nicolas Cage's performance is buried under makeup, though when he arrives on screen, it's not entirely unlike the shark from 'Jaws'. He's terrifying, he's all anyone talks about, and he slips in and out of the movie in the same way. Any longer, however, and you start to see the rubber.

'Longlegs' is a horror move, though it's the trappings of mystery that makes you lean forward in the seat to take more of it in. Yet, for most of the runtime, the thing begins to coil in on itself, not unlike the snakes that Maika Monroe's character sees flashes of when she sees a new murder victim. Moreover, the murders themselves are confounding, in that Longlegs - the fabled serial killer - leaves no trace other than coded messages. Yet, for all this, the murders and the violence is starkly present. It all happens out in the open, and like an animal caught in headlights, we too are frozen in place and taking it all in. The rigidity of the camera in these pivotal moments has the effect of appearing like a dream; that kind of liminal space where it's all familiar and all of it utterly terrifying.

The atmosphere of dread and tension is sustained for so long that it can become exhausting at times, and there's a sense of the script running out before the runtime with most of it wrapped up far too neatly for its own good. Nevertheless, 'Longlegs' is the most effective and disturbing horrors you're likely to see this year.