Having seen this on release, I was curious to find out how Marcus Adam’s feature debut holds up after its 18 years in the wild.
Coming in at the tail end of the 1990s/ early 2000s slasher resurgence I remember ‘Long Time Dead’ receiving a fairly luke-warm response from mainstream critics, but I seem to remember thinking that when I saw it, that is wasn’t all that bad. After some lockdown reminiscing (and a recent watch of the similarly themed ‘Final Wish’), I decided to give the film a revisit.
The plot follows a group of drug-obsessed teens, who, after one particularly wild evening clubbing decide to end their night with a séance. As you might predict, despite the cliched rules being explained, they manage to contact something untoward – a fire demon called a Djinn, and then brake the circle, trapping it in our world. One by one the vengeful spirit comes for them.
The plot is vanilla, and its characters bland. The acting is varied, the script is serviceable and for those looking at a film to rival something like ‘Scream’ in its subtext, memorable victims and protagonist can give this a miss because it offers nothing to the rash of 15-rated slasher films which were released by studios to milk horrors then fashionable cash cow to death. Even though the film puts in an interesting sub-plot which involves a historic summoning in Morocco (I think), ‘Long Time Dead’ is in too much of a hurry to continue its by the numbers tropes to develop this storyline beyond its telegraphed (and inevitable) plot twist.
With that said, there is perhaps an angle through which I might recommend ‘Long Time Dead’.
Whilst its characters were sacrificed in more ways than one, this film does well to develop its atmosphere and scares. Now don’t take this as verbatim, its not a masterclass in either, but for a debut, released at a time where the whole teen-slasher thing had been reduced almost to the point of spoof, there is a definite confidence and restraint which could be attributed to a more seasoned director.
In many ways ‘Long Time Dead’ is saved by its choice of antagonist; specifically, the freedom through which its methods of stalking and slashing can shift between traditional tangible deaths and then supernatural style lead-ins. Linking this to my point in the previous paragraph, the sandbox approach to the kill set pieces allows for some really nice touches which for me make the film stand out. One scene in particular sees the lights going out behind a would-be victim as they make their way up several flights of stairs which we view from the external perspective culminating in a moment where only one lightbulb separates the hapless teen from the inevitable; its creative, and adds a tension typically missing in teen slashers.
Again, is it amazing? no, but its memorable and tense, even though moments like this in the film are fleeting and inconsistent, I feel it’s enough to give it ‘Long Time Dead’ an identity; to bolster this there are some decent jump-scares to keep the film momentum going. Pace is not something this film struggles with either, which is another plus.
Overall, ‘Long Time Dead’ is a film you should check out if you’ve got a 90s/00s slasher itch to scratch, and possibly worth a view if you’ve not seen it. It follows the formula, to the letter, and here the characters are especially dumb, but there are enough decent set pieces, bits of gore and jump scares to give you 90 minutes of entertainment.