Long Time Dead

(Marcus Adams, UK, 2002)


I assumed I would never see a horror movie more inept or unsophisticated than the Australian shocker Cut (2000). That ignoble mantle has now been taken by a lame British production, Long Time Dead.

There are certain popular genres that cannot be approached innocently, and horror is definitely among them. Audiences are so hip to every cliché, plot device and predictable twist that any new film must exhibit a canny self-consciousness. The familiar elements must either be debunked or delivered in a novel, new way.

The Scream series took this knowingness to such an extreme point that the cat-and-mouse game with the audience collapsed from exhaustion. The postmodern, you've-seen-it-all-before horror movie has rapidly become as much a cliché as the older, more straightforward kind. Hence all the terrible efforts in the vein of Cut based around smart-aleck film students haunted by the curse of some unfinished supernatural thriller.

While The Blair Witch Project (1999) briefly revitalised the genre by stripping it to a barer state, its sequel reverted immediately to post-Scream tedium. The best directors of horror now are those who mix very classical, literary models with a daringly experimental stylisation, like Alejandro Amenábar (The Others, 2001) and Guillermo del Toro (The Devil's Backbone, 2001).

Long Time Dead plods through the most basic horror elements without any wit or flair. A group of young clubbers decide to monkey around with an Ouija board. The spirit of a very bad person enters one of them. But which one? Now the film is set to count down a set of grisly murders. Every time a character walks down a corridor or sets off down a laneway alone, you know what is going to happen.

Director Marcus Adams and (count them) four credited writers try to add spice with shock edits, gory special effects, sinister onlookers and elaborate references to a mysterious, past trauma. But the effort is in vain.

Long Time Dead is so bad it inevitably induces a state of derisive, hysterical giggling in its audience, as each viewer tries to anticipate the next, wooden cliché. Such mockery is the only possible response.

MORE lame horror: Eight Legged Freaks, Darkness Falls

© Adrian Martin September 2002

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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