Long Time Dead
Dir: Marcus Adams
Star: Joe Absolom, Alec Newman, Marsha Thomason, Lukas Haas, Lara Belmont
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 2002
Format: DVD R2

"OUIJA BOARD" / 'weeja, 'weeji / noun trademark
a board with letters, numbers and other signs around the edge and a moving pointer that is used to produce messages, answers to questions etc in spiritualistic seances. [French oui yes + German ja yes]

Opening in Morrocco at a seventies seance which has gone wrong, resulting in the deaths of all but two of the group (a good start which allows the film to start building the tension before the story has a chance to kick in). Jumping to London some years later a group of students at an all night warehouse party share stories of the biggest "buzz" the have ever experienced. One of the group confesses the weirdest "buzz" he had was when he used a Ouija board. Drugged up and fancy free, the group resolve to experience a Ouija board together. What they soon expect to be fun rapidly turns into a nightmare as the glass on the board rapidly spells out the chilling message: ALL DIE... Shortly after their chilling experience one of the girls dies horribly, unnerved and terrified, the group retreat to their house (typical students all living together) , but one by one begin to fall victim in a succession of disturbing murders. The remaining friends discover that they awakened an evil "Djinn" spirit which has posessed one of them and they must banish it before it claims its next victim. Time is rapidly running out and the Djinn must kill everyone that was at the seance so that he can be free. The body count increases and the group soon realise they can't trust anybody. Not even each other...

At last a Horror movie that goes back to basics, avoids the usual pit falls of excessive CGI, doesn't rely on a central "slasher" character and even manages to appear delightfully original. The use of a "Ouija board" in a film however isn't unfortunately a new or original idea but Long Time Dead manages to utilise it in such a way that it breathes new life into an old concept that ensures a particuarly creepy end product. The really scary fact is that most of us will know someone who has either had an experience or knows someone who has had an experience with a Ouija board, whether it was good or bad or indifferent. This may also be one of the reasons that the film appeals and works so well.

At times this quaint British horror movie is reminiscent of the classic Hammer Horror films. Like many of the Hammer Horror productions much of the actual "horror" occurs off screen, (It's what you don't see that's likely to scare you most) which allows the audience to see the end result but relies upon the viewers imagination to run wild which is invariably far more terrifying and allows some of the horror to be misdirected. The lack of excessive gore and rampant bloodletting is quite refreshing and maintains a chilling as opposed to a shocking quality to the film. Marcus Adams directs in an urban gothic noir style as the film presents a dark, dingy and oppressive feel throughout. The story doesn't waste any time and whirls itself along at a decent pace building some fabulous tension along the way. The direction by newcomer Marcus Adams is impressive and backed by some excellent photography, it is hard to believe that this is his first feature film at times. The film does have some truly cliche and stereotypical moments as you would expect but on the whole it all works well and manages to be quite subtle. Throughout the film the "Djinn" plays a wicked and taut psychological game with the group which leads to an inevitable showdown and an ultimately surprising conclusion. Very wisely the "Djinn" is not revealed until the end, which was the mistake that Jeepers Creepers made but despite the quote on the box this film does NOT make Jeepers Creepers look like the Tweenies! In some respects Long Time Dead is marginally better than Jeepers Creepers but it is let down in others. Some good potential is missed and the Ouija scene itself especially could have been elaborated.

Various well known cast members of various British television series crop up as our main protaganists. Some provide decidedly muddled accents to match their performances whereas others just shine and provide outstanding performances. Lukas Haas turns up as the token Yank character to appeal to viewers over the pond. Some ropey dialogue can be overlooked but I'm afraid the awful performance by Mel Raido is absolutley pathetic and has little by way of any redeeming features. Haas manages to eke out a performance as a wide eyed jug eared whiner. On the plus side Joe Absolom and the remaining cast do actually provide some excellent performances and do a superb job of holding the story together although Marsha Thomason does manage to let her northern accent slip out now and again.

Ouija boards and their use are so deeply engrained as taboo in our culture that it is easy to see their attraction but the subject isn't particuarly well covered in most of the films but I'm pleased to say that this is an exception. A grossly underrated horror film that is genuinely scary and suggestively chilling. A film that is certain to become a classic.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Picture 2.35:1 Anamorphic Sharp & Crisp
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Superb, Excellent use of the 5.1
Features Unimpressive semi-static menu
2 Mini featurettes
Teaser Trailer
Theatrical trailer
Behind the Scenes feature
Verdict A reasonable presentation considering the quiet release this film unjustly received. Nevertheless, some of the extras aren't particuarly impressive but are generally interesting. Deserves a better release.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home