Longlegs Review

Up-and-coming FBI Agent Lee Harker (Maika Monroe) is assigned to a serial-killer case with unexpected links to the occult — and her own history.

by Sophie Butcher |
Published on
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The first few minutes of Osgood Perkins’ unsettling new psychological thriller Longlegs are some of the most effective in recent memory. Playing with sound, sharp cuts and curiosity-inducing creepiness, Perkins delivers a series of jump-scares that get your heart pounding out of your chest. Trust us, you’ll feel it. It’s a hell of an opening, that says: this is a film to simultaneously lean into and wince away from; a film prepared to pull the rug from under you at any point; a film that delights in playing with your senses to provide maximum shock value.


Maika Monroe (who has excellent previous form in this arena with It Follows and recent thriller Watcher) is Lee Harker, a socially awkward FBI agent with a remarkably accurate gut instinct, which we’re told early on is ‘half-psychic’. She’s put on the case of a serial killer involved in family murders over multiple decades, the only signs of him left at the scenes being coded letters ending in one word: “Longlegs”. A cat-and-mouse hunt ensues, as Lee attempts to figure out Longlegs’ motives and methods before he strikes again.

Lee and Longlegs’ relationship and convergence towards each other is fascinatingly spelled out, not just through their past but their mental states

Perkins barely shows us the culprit himself — played by Nicolas Cage, as you have never seen him before — for the first half of the movie; only glances at his profile, his mouth and chin, his scraggly mop of curly hair. It’s a good move, building up the audience’s fear and fascination, ultimately revealing a distorted, child-like, Joker-esque figure that we could never have imagined, and whom Cage completely disappears into.

The pace lags a little in the middle (though Perkins wakes you right up before too long), the ending feels anticlimactically structured, and some of the plot-mechanics of Longlegs’ kills are slightly unclear — but the sheer sense of atmosphere the film conjures more than compensates. The serial-killer movie influences are obvious — The Silence Of The LambsSeven, Zodiac — but it also evokes scuzzy video nasties, demonic hints of Insidious, and pulls a lot from the ‘Satanic panic’ of the ’80s. It’s stark and cold in some ways, but loose and playful in others, with flashbacks indicated through ratio changes and grainy film, and a thread of perfectly pitched dark humour. Lee and Longlegs’ relationship and convergence towards each other is fascinatingly spelled out, not just through their past but their mental states — their mirrored primal screams stick in the memory. Pushing its nastiest elements a little further might have made it more permanently rattle the soul, but Longlegs will still leave you suitably shook up.

A chilling concoction, featuring a remarkable transformation of Nicolas Cage and a reminder of Maika Monroe’s star quality. Submit to its demonic darkness for a singular, sensory cinematic horror experience.
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