LONG TIME DEAD
Director: Marcus Adams / Writers: Marcus Adams, Eitan Arussi, Chris Baker, Daniel Bronzite, Andy Day, James Gay-Rees / Cast: Alec Newman, Marsha Thomason, Joe Absolom, James Hillier, Lukas Haas, Lara Belmont, Mel Raido, Melanie Gutteridge, Tom Bell, Michael Feast.
Body Count: 10
Ouija boards…evil ancestors of Monopoly and Cluedo. Everybody knows someone who’s friend Claire dabbled and then went mental. Scary stories are almost as common as people who say sod all happened.
Having learned nothing from Linda Blair’s experiences and probably never even having heard of the fab homage to 80s hair-don’ts that is Witchboard, eight London students discussing the most exhilerating things they’ve gotten up to decide to try a little seance for kicks with a homemade Ouija. When the message from the other side is a less than encouraging ‘All Die’, one of them breaks the pre-assigned rule of removing his finger from the glass while the cross-plains call is still in progress…
According to the spiritually-learned Lucy, the Djinn – as it identifies itself – is now locked on their side of the divide. It quickly does away with one of them and subsequently begins offing the rest, leaving scorch marks on each victim, because it’s… a fire demon!
No, really, it is.
Anyway, the group sink into a depression, which, in true Brit-grit style, is nicely realised by the less-than-pristine set pieces and hints at the respective lifestyles of the characters; open to drugs, chronic smokers, short-fused and untrustworthy. This is one thing that distinguishes British horror from American and it’s used to good effect in Long Time Dead, although it could be a turn-off to others, an overused cliche thanks to the rinse n’ repeat tactics of the Guy Ritchie brethren.
Take it or leave it… none of the kids here are particularly sympathetic. Liam, bereaved boyfriend of the first victim, is set up as the moral centre for viewer identification, possibly due to the hallucinations that bother him during the seance, which we know are going to play a part down the line. His buddies Rob, Webster, Joe and Spence round out the largely indistinguishable guy cast, while Lucy, Stella and Annie are apparently best friends who barely have any scenes together.
The middle section of things is a deathfest, as the group learns what they can from creepy landlord Becker – who has a convenient fascination with the occult, from the camcorder footage token American Webster (the cute mouse that is Lukas Haas) made and finding melted plastic bottles around the homestead. All of this does them no good, they just keep on expiring at an alarming rate…
With half the cast annihilated at the scorchy hands of the fire demon (…phnarr!!), it becomes clear that the fiend has possessed one of their number to do its bidding. Liam, meanwhile, finds out some home truths to do with his flashbacks that might aide him in stopping the chaos. We’ve seen more than three teen-horror films and therefore know better and when the other survivors return to the original spot to perform a banashing, it aligns the required planets of horror for the grand unmasking-slash-showdown. The identity of possessed schmuck houses few surprises – the posters and DVD cover all but give it away. Here, Long Time Dead begins to flap around like a landed fish until it staggers drunkenly towards the predictable final shock.
Ultimately an interesting genre flick; there’ve been plenty of possession-based slasher flicks and the added niche of ornate Britishness elevates Long Time Dead a notch above what it could have been, were it a straight-up stalk n’ slash opus. Temptations to ape American conventions do more harm than good, especially when it comes to the string-rich score, which sounds outdated and plain wrong in a film that visually trades on student-class squalor and apathetic youths in the shit. The Ouija Board angle is a good sell and wouldn’t prompt many to try one for themselves, it’s simply a shame it turns out to be a bit of a ghost train with no more than a few dirty sheets alongside the track…