A group of teens at a warehouse party decide it would be a good idea to play with a Ouija board, & do so in the dark basement. The words "Djinn" & "All Die" are spelt out. Alarmed, the group break it off, but before long they start dying in mysterious ways. Is one of the group possessed?
One of the biggest problems with Long Time Dead is that it doesn’t seem to know what audience it is aiming for. It’s status as a teen-horror implies that it’s aiming for the Scream crowd, but it plays as though that film had never happened. Consequently, it leaves that audience disappointed & unimpressed at the stupidity of its’ characters. Meanwhile, its’ teen emphasis & sheer over familiarity will also leave serious horror fans unsatisfied.
The idea that one of the group is possessed is not explored very much, & the final revelation is pretty much meaningless & inconsequential. The characterisation is pretty flat, with no one standing out in the memory. This, coupled with their stupid behaviour, making it hard for us to care whether or not they die. And there’s only so many times we can watch gleefully as a bunch of idiots get killed, particularly when it’s in such largely uninspired fashions as here.
The flat where most of the group lives is quite ridiculously dank, squalid & gloomy. This should instill an atmosphere of dread, but instead it pulls us out of the film for its’ implausibility. It seems to be aiming for a gritty realism, but the flat is not recognisable as a real-world location, keeping the audience at arm's length. Whilst in a film like Suspiria, the otherworldly locations are mirrored in the style, approach, & form of the film. Here it simply looks out of place. The basement, meanwhile is so dark & foreboding that anyone doing anything with a Ouija board down there deserves everything they get. Most of the film is made up of utterly conventional – if not entirely ineffective – stalk & slash sequences of a sort we’ve seen far too often. There’s little invention to mark it out from the crowd. Even the Ouija board that director Marcus Adams is so proud of is familiar from the likes of Witchboard.
Adams uses his background in pop promos to give the film a thumping, MTV sheen that may well impress younger viewer, but will annoy & turn off many others (although there are far worse examples out there). Don Davis’ score is effective, but over-used. Indeed, there’s a very aggressive use of sound to create unease & shocks, which, whilst not particularly original, is quite effective – although it does tend to become boringly obvious. In addition, there is at least one unnervingly effective sequence that occurs under a bed. There’s also a rambling back-story concerning the landlord & the father of one of the group. Which leads up to a "shock" ending that couldn’t be any less surprising if it tried.
Long Time Dead isn’t a total washout, &, with the aid of a heavy marketing campaign, it managed to pass enough undemanding nights at the multiplex to make a reasonable £1.58M at the UK box office. And it is better and more effective than most US attempts at teen horror – though that still doesn’t make it a great horror movie. Genre newbies will probably get a kick out of it, & if you’re feeling charitable it will get you through an hour and a half. But horror fans will find it to be nothing special, & not worth actively seeking out. There must be a great British horror movie coming along soon (it’s certainly been a long time since Hellraiser), but this sure isn’t it.