Normally, in a review, it’s not the most important thing to start off with a spoiler warning. Most movies these days are spoiled in the trailers, marketing, or some other way, and that’s just how we’re conditioned to accept it. In the case of Longlegs, NEON and the marketing team behind the film have gone to extreme lengths to not spoil anything about the film. It’s built and built into this behemoth of a movie coming out on July 12th, 2024. In that same spirit, this will be a completely spoiler-free review. Now on to the show.

No Spoilers For Longlegs Here

There will be a lot of people who simply dismiss Longlegs as a copy of Silence of the Lambs. Yes, it does have some similar vibes, but in the case of a lot of people generalizing movies like that, not everything is as it seems. Longlegs follows Special Agent Lee Harker (played by Maika Monroe), an agent with a gift that’s shown off in the opening scene of the film. She has an uncanny ability for hunches, something that makes upper-tier agents like Agent Carter (played by Blair Underwood) take notice of her abilities. She’s on the trail of an elusive serial killer (played by Nicolas Cage) who has been murdering people for decades, but the FBI can’t ever pin physical evidence on them. The only thing that gets left behind are notes signed by Longlegs.

The conspiracy slowly unravels, and Lee has to track down the killer before they strike again. Sounds simple? Because it is. At least, it sounds simple. Once you watch the movie, you’ll realize that it gets a bit more complicated for Lee Harker.

Osgood Perkins writes and directs the film, and it’s very clear that he went to the Hitchcock school of building tension. The entire film is a masterclass on how to ratchet up tension and bring it back down, only to ratchet it up once again. Longlegs, being exceptionally terrifying, is broken up by moments of levity, blunt humor, and a feeling that I can only describe as nervous laughing. There are some genuinely funny moments that break up the constant tension rising in the background, which makes for a much better viewing experience.

Nicolas Cage Is As Terrifying As Advertised And Then Some

If you have been paying attention to the marketing for Longlegs, you might hear about how people are vomiting and passing out in the theater and all those old Roger Corman-style techniques to draw in audiences. While I didn’t Exorcist projectile vomit all over the back of the seat in front of me, there were some seriously unnerving scenes in Longlegs. The best part about the terrifying nature of the film is that a good majority of it is implied; it’s up to you to imagine the scenes of gruesome violence or terror on display.

There’s a bit of mysticism in play in Longlegs that makes it feel like an episode of The X-Files crossed with a bit of The Strangers and other FBI procedural movies. It’s not overpowering enough to feel like the movie jumps the shark, but it’s enough to add a dash of intrigue to the whole plot.

I was sitting in the theater wondering where Nicolas Cage stacked up with some of the most terrifying performances in recent memory or even all time. Longlegs does a great job of obscuring and hiding Cage away for a good portion of the film. His face is always obscured, and his motives are shrouded; it adds up to a situation where you’re always waiting for the chance to see the full picture. Once you do, it adds even more questions than answers.

For all the things that Longlegs does really well, the only gripe I have with it is that the plot sinks a bit later in the film. It makes a key decision that feels like it takes the air out of its sails a bit. From there, the film meanders a bit before ending with a bang. It sticks the landing through some of the choppier waters of the narrative. The first half of this film is still up there with the best of the best in the serial killer horror category though.

You’ll feel unnerved long after watching Longlegs. It’s not the type of horror that’ll just pop out of a window at you, making your heart rate spike for a short time. It’s the type of movie that sticks with you, hiding in the back of your brain until its reactivated. Nicolas Cage is utterly terrifying in this film. Maika Monroe channels her best inner Scully/Clarice Starling, but adds a youthful energy to the normal archetypal FBI agent.

Longlegs is a truly special horror movie that is sure to stick with you long after you watch it.

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