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Nicolas Cage Tops His Twisted Legacy with His Most Extreme, Creepy Role Yet

Writer/Director Osgood Perkins is aiming for a distinct mark in the film industry, aiming to measure up to his father’s celebrated legacy. Anthony Perkins, best known for his role as the creepy, unforgettable Norman Bates in Hitchcock’s 1960 classic, Psycho, left an indelible mark on horror cinema and followed up his iconic role in the 80s with Psycho II and Psycho III, the latter which he also directed.

Osgood Perkins (The Blackcoat’s Daughter) channels some dark, personal experiences and themes in his storytelling, hinting that his parents’ complex marriage played a part in shaping his narratives. Anthony Perkins was a closeted gay man, married to Berry Berensen, who kept his secret from the public and their two kids. Anthony passed away at 60 in 1993 due to AIDS complications, and Berensen tragically died in the first plane that hit the World Trade Center in 2001. Though his new film, Longlegs, isn’t directly about his family, the themes resonate deeply with Osgood.

Longlegs pays tribute to the 90’s era of serial killer thrillers like The Silence of the Lambs and David Fincher’s Se7en. Maika Monroe (It Follows) plays FBI agent Lee Harker, who delves into an unsolved case that began in Oregon in the 70s and continued into the 90s. The case involves a series of bizarre family murders focusing on young girls born on the 14th of a month and family patriarchs who went on a killing spree and then turned the gun on themselves. Each scene of carnage leaves behind a clue written in code, signed by someone known as Longlegs (Nicolas Cage).

The elusive and royal creepiness of Longlegs is unveiled gradually. Early scenes only show his torso, keeping his head and face hidden until later in the film. One of the more ironic and amusing moments involves a convenience store clerk recognizing him, yet this particular encounter doesn’t end in violence. Meanwhile, Harker closes in on him, driven by an intuitive and personal connection to the case from her childhood. Her colleagues, including Agent Carter (Blair Underwood), suspect she has a gift that might help crack this case. Harker’s background has its own dark elements, with a mother, Ruth (Alicia Witt), who has religious and twisted personality issues.

Cage’s full presence isn’t revealed until later, but his essence permeates the film. When we get the full reveal, it showcases Longlegs’ bizarre figure with long stringy hair, heavy makeup in a Baby Jane style, and a high-pitched, screechy voice. This character, although not another Norman Bates, is a uniquely twisted creation. Cage brings a peculiar art to the role, making Longlegs a character that’s both terrifying and oddly amusing.

Monroe delivers a grounded performance as Harker, lending a serious tone to her role, embodying a blend of Agent Starling and Lisbeth Salander. Despite a chaotic final act with supernatural twists and character switch-ups, which nearly derail the film, Monroe’s dedicated portrayal keeps the narrative compelling. Director Perkins has admitted his intent to throw every classic genre trope into this mix—from axe massacres to devil worship and haunted dolls. Despite its flaws, Longlegs offers a thrilling ride for fans of dark, eerie storytelling.

Special mention should go to Eugenio Battaglia’s effective sound design, creating an almost character-like presence throughout the film. Andres Arochi’s atmospheric cinematography and Harlow MacFarlane’s nightmare-inducing makeup effects add distinct layers that enhance the film’s unsettling ambiance.

Producers for the film include Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Dave Caplan, Chris Ferguson, Dan Kagan, and Nicolas Cage.

Title: Longlegs

Distributor: NEON

Release Date: July 12, 2024

Director/Screenplay: Osgood Perkins

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Maika Monroe, Alicia Witt, Kiernan Shipka, Michelle Choi-Lee, Dakota Daulby, Lauren Alcala

Rating: R

Running Time: 1 hour and 41 minutes

Source: source names