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Longlegs movie review and movie summary (2024)

Longlegs movie review and movie summary (2024)

Perkins sometimes strays from that fever-dream tone, such as in the late-movie exposition dump that tries to explain directly and strangely what happened in the previous hour and change. Nightmares don’t need exposition dumps. It may sound a bit nitpicky, but it’s indicative of a general problem that bedevils “Longlegs.” Despite Neon’s considerable advance screening effort to drum up interest and its likely incredibly low Cinemascore, this strange film sometimes seems unwilling to commit to its creepy weirdness until the end, holding back or explaining its intentions when it should seek confusion rather than explanation. More than anything, we remember nightmares that we’re still trying to understand.

“Longlegs” opens with arguably its most effective sequence, a flashback framed as if you were watching someone’s home movie on a family room projector. A car pulls up to a distant house and a young girl emerges. Perkins immediately plays with perspective, not only confining us to the tight frame but essentially giving us a child’s perspective on the next encounter, an encounter that will affect everything that follows.

Fast forward years to the 90s – there’s a photo of Clinton on the FBI Director’s office wall to mark the time, but much of the production design feels even more dated than that, creating a kind of dream-logic disconnect once again – as new agent Lee Harker (Maika Monroe) arrives for her first case. Acting on some kind of psychic intuition, she catches a serial killer, leading the FBI to suspect that she’s no ordinary agent, and they subject her to a series of mental tests to prove that she has unique abilities. Unfortunately, this plot gets lost a bit as the film progresses, mostly used to establish Lee as “special,” but Perkins’ script pays little attention to that aspect of her character. This is one of the few places where “Longlegs” could have leaned more into its quirks. Sure, this movie is an oddity for America’s multiplexes, but my argument is, more strange.

One person who definitely gives it his all in a weird way is Nicolas Cage (and he has more weirdness in his bag of acting tricks than most), who plays the title character, a Satan-worshipping serial killer who seems to be inspired by Ted Bundy and Tiny Tim (the singer, not the street urchin). Harker is brought in by Agent Carter (Blair Underwood) to investigate a series of family murders, in which one parent, usually the father, kills the children and their spouse before taking his own life. No one would think these were anything other than tragic, self-contained events, if it weren’t for a mysterious figure there, sending mysterious Zodiac-like notes about the crimes, tied to specific dates. How does Longlegs orchestrate such brutality? And what do the dates mean? Alicia Witt plays Lee’s devoutly religious mother Ruth, who constantly asks her daughter if she’s been praying. You get the feeling Lee will need those prayers.