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A group of British students enbark on summoning spirits on a Ouija board after a night of clubbing. But someone breaks the link before they have finished and now a demon is trapped in their world and the only way to banish it, is for all the people who summoned it to die. Written by
A random group of young adults who are some combination of roommates/friends takes time out from their busy partying schedule to play with an improvised Ouija board, when they accidentally call forth a djinn who tells them that they will all die.
Long Time Dead is quite a mess, made all the more frustrating by occasional flashes of competence. It couldn't have helped that that a veritable army of writers--seven credited in all--worked on the story and script, including director Marcus Adams.
After a brief prologue set in the late 1970s in Morocco which was far more promising than most of the film proper, we begin meeting our bloated cast of heroes. There are eight of them, maybe all living in the same building or apartment, except for Lucy (Marsha Thomason), who appears to be living on a boat near the building. If I sound unsure, it's because Adams is not able to clearly establish the characters, their relationships to one another, or the relationships of one location to another. It doesn't help that a few of the five males look alike, and they all dress alike. Neither does it help that as the film progresses, various characters arbitrarily appear and disappear for random lengths of time. That fact is indicative of the pacing problems that plague the film on many levels.
It's not often very clear why any characters are doing whatever they happen to be doing at a given moment. Most of the plot seems like an excuse to put characters in very stereotypical horror/thriller scenarios, where they slowly walk around an environment frightened, becoming startled in various ways until finally some unseen thing kills them. These scenes are often competent, and occasionally they're good, but in the context of the film, they have little dramatic impact. Much of Long Time Dead plays more like a sample reel of "scare scenes"; it has little coherency as a story.
A big problem is that the chief villain is never clearly shown, explained or given any rules to follow. For most of the film, the villain is invisible. Invisible villains are usually a problem, and often indicate deficiencies in budget and/or imagination. Oddly, by the end, there is a concrete villain and the film has devolved into a fairly stock thriller, where we have to guess whom the possessed cast member is.
Although the story has promise, and the ending is somewhat of an improvement, even though it never rises above the cliché, Long Time Dead is too burdened with severe flaws in direction, cinematography (the film is frequently far too dark) and performances to merit a recommendation. I ended up granting a 4 (equivalent to a "high F" letter grade) because of the adequacy of some of the "scare" and death scenes, the good ideas in the backstory, and the slightly more engaging climax. The film would have been much better if the prologue and the subsequent events with Becker and the one character's father who ended up in a mental institution had been the focus, but alas, it was not to be. Let's hope Adams fares better the next time around.
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