The labyrinthine trailer for Longlegs with Nicolas Cage as a serial killer

Longlegs: Shocking images, an unleashed Nicolas Cage, but not many chills (review)

Between occultism, glam rock and nods to The Silence of the Lambs, Oz Perkins’ horror film quickly gets lost in its maze of references.

On the film’s poster, Maika Monroe has one hand on the gun hanging from her belt, ready to draw, and the other on her mouth, to hide a cry of fright. A good indicator of the balance sought by Longlegs between thriller and horror, cop movie and scare movie. Oz Perkins’ fourth feature film (but the first to be released in theaters here) depicts the hunt by an FBI investigator, in the 90s, for a super creepy and crazy serial killer played by a transfigured Nicolas Cage (we won’t say more, part of the promo maintaining the mystery of his appearance in the film).

FBI, investigator, 90s: Longlegs was clearly intended as a variation on THE Silence of the Lambs – confirmation, after several other recent productions (Misanthrope by Damian Szifron, season 4 of True Detective…), that the echo of the 1991 masterpiece resonates today stronger than ever. Perkins’ angle of attack is to seize the codes, themes and imagery of Jonathan Demme’s classic to take them to roam the lands of the occult, spiritualism and Grand-Guignol thrills. A tightrope walk, then.

There is a side of a small, bent chemist in the director’s approach, which seduces during a few scenes of exposition imposing an atmosphere of pale terror, from the traumatic appearance of a bogeyman in a snowy garden, to the routine investigation of a duo of Feds soon struck by the mediumistic gifts of the heroine. In her mixture of power and feverishness, the always fascinating Maika Monroe (an icon of horror cinema since It Followsalready ten years ago) has a lot to do with the film’s initial appeal.

Longlegs unfortunately quickly reveals that it has more style than substance. Perkins knows how to create disturbing atmospheres, shocking images, but which are mainly there to camouflage a fairly banal plot. He multiplies the false starts, artificially chapters his story to give it a sophisticated appearance, and sprinkles the whole thing with winks to rock fetishes (T. Rex), quickly reduced to turnkey cool. The film, deep down, resembles performance over the top by Nicolas Cage: entertaining but very banal in its claimed eccentricity. It’selevated horroras they say, but not very high on the scale of fear.

From Oz Perkins. With Maika Monroe, Nicolas Cage, Blair Underwood… Duration 1h41. In theaters July 10, 2024

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