I had no idea what this movie even was. I'd impulse-bought it from the ex-rental pile at Blockbusters a few years ago. Obviously a recent British horror film, but beyond that I didn't know what kind of story to expect. There's something rather cool about sitting down to a movie with absolutely no clue about what you're getting into, but the downside is that just maybe there's a reason you've never heard of it.
Yes, that's right. Long Time Dead is rubbish. One reason for writing this review is so that in future years I have documentary evidence that I did indeed watch this thing and can use it to remind myself not to watch it again.
Good things about this movie include the cinematography, which is beautiful. This is one gorgeously shot film. The actors are solid and it's not their fault that their characters are so forgettable. There's a nifty Djinn-eyes special effect and some of the action towards the end of the film isn't too bad. Those are the only things I'd actually praise about this movie, but equally it doesn't have huge gaping flaws either. For the most part this is the very definition of efficiently made mediocrity that looks good, makes no mistakes and has no obvious reason to exist.
Bad things about this movie would be the script. Someone has to take the blame for this thing. I simply don't see the point of this film, beyond the obvious one of "make a British horror movie". It's unremarkable horror fare, but it could still have been good if only they'd had characters I gave a damn about. They don't. They're losers. They're students or something who think only about drugs, sex and clubbing. They have no plans and no goals. You'd need to pause the film and consult charts and diagrams to tell them apart, especially the men. The film creates its world convincingly and I'm prepared to believe that this is an accurate depiction of British youth, but that doesn't make it fun to watch. These people would bore me to tears if I had to spend any time in their company and as the protagonists of a horror movie I was simply waiting for them to die.
In fairness there are a few adults. There's a slightly creepy landlord and a late detour to a loony bin which wakes up the movie like a cool refreshing shower. A professional grown-up person in a suit! Competence! Talking properly! I could have sobbed. Don't get too excited, though. Even the adults are less interesting than they should have been and in any case we're soon back to the losers.
The script is flat in other ways too. Someone dies spectacularly at a nightclub and we don't see any police. That doesn't mean they didn't turn up of course, but it still feels odd not to see them. One of the characters totes around a camcorder to very little effect. The backstory was unclear and less dramatic than it should have been, in the end contributing nothing that the youngsters hadn't guessed for themselves anyway.
Personally I suspect that this was a British attempt to ride the J-horror wave. It's not copying any Western sub-genre of horror I can think of, but instead is teasing us with the supernatural in a world of unglamorous and culturally specific realism. Its monster reminds me of Japan's murderous ghosts, being a spirit we never see except indirectly as it possesses people or kills them offscreen. Given how easily it does the latter, what's the point in it doing the former? This is the kind of film that would have probably been awesome had it been Japanese, but unfortunately all the characters being English makes them tedious. There's something dully depressing about cinematic depictions of British lowlifes, despite exceptions such as Trainspotting. It's possible to avoid this trap, but they certainly didn't here. However I will admit that in no way whatsoever is this film pandering to Americans.
This isn't even an interesting film to discuss, since its only real problems are in its script's lack of inspiration and I suppose subjectively its Britishness. The production is strong and I've already praised the cinematography. The monster is from Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, although sadly it's not a Pharsee from whose hat the rays of the sun are reflected in more than oriental splendour, or an Elephant with a small nose and full of 'satiable curiosity. That would have been a great improvement.
If this were a Doctor Who book, it would have been proudly commissioned by Steve Cole. It's an exercise in empty filmmaking and the main feeling it evoked in me was the urge to fast-forward. If I hadn't been going to write this review, I certainly would have. Similarly the greatest horror I experienced came when I looked at the clock and saw that only 45 minutes had passed, making me not even halfway through. It doesn't even have any nudity. I won't say I hated the characters, but the only way they ever sparked my interest was with their bloody deaths.
Even the title's rubbish.