Am I the only person in the world who likes the 2002 British horror film, Long Time Dead?
I sometimes think that I may be. Whenever I mention the film to anyone, they either say they’ve never heard of it or they kind of roll their eyes. I have yet to read a positive review online. Long Time Dead has only got a 4.9 rating at the imdb, which is saying something because usually even the worst of films can still manage to score at least a 6.0.
So, I guess it’s true. I guess only I like Long Time Dead.
Now, I should clarify that, just because I like a movie, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s very good. Long Time Dead is definitely a flawed film. This is one of those films where an evil spirit — in this case, a fire demon known as a djinn — pursues a group of friends, killing them one-by-one. There are eight friends, which seems to be a bit excessive for a 94 minute film. We’re never quite sure how all of these characters got to know each other in the first place. Some of them appear to be college students. Four of them share a flat. Another one lives on a boat. And as for the other three, they appear to all live in the same building but still, you’re never really sure how everyone is related.
What’s odd is that we only really get to know five of the eight characters, which again leads the viewer to wonder why we needed the other three. We know that Spencer (James Hillier) is perpetually stoned and that all of this is kind of his fault because he’s the one who suggested that the group should use a Ouija board to try to contact a spirit. We know that his girlfriend, Lucy (Marsha Thomason), knows about the supernatural and, for some reason, lives on a boat. We know that Liam (Alec Newman) was traumatized when his father murdered his mother. We know that Liam’s girlfriend, Annie (Melanie Gutteridge), has asthma. We know that Rob (Joe Absolom) appears to be a nice guy. And then there’s Webster (Lukas Haas), Stella (Lara Belmont), and Joe (Mel Raido), who don’t really have any reason for being in the movie.
(Seriously, what is respected Texas character actor and friend-of-Leonardo-DiCaprio Lukas Haas doing in a low-budget British horror film?)
At first, we’re led to believe that the djinn is killing people because it’s upset that it was dragged out of its world by the Ouija board. But, as the film progresses, we learn that the djinn has a personal score to settle with one of his potential victims. We also learn that someone may or may not be possessed by the djinn. It’s all a bit too much to keep track of. I’ve read rumors that Long Time Dead was a difficult production and the fact that the film has seven credited writers might provide a clue as to why the film is such a narrative mess.
And yet, despite all of that, I still like Long Time Dead.
The reason is very simple.
The movie scared me.
Maybe it was because I was watching it late at night and I had the lights out or maybe it was because, as an asthmatic, I related to poor Annie but Long Time Dead scared the Hell out of me the first time I saw it. Not only is the film full of effective jump scenes but the djinn is a terrifying monster. He’s relentless, ruthless, and merciless. I think what truly scared me is that the djinn would attack anyone anywhere. There was literally nowhere that you could hide from it.
Long Time Dead is no classic but it still made me scream.