The Longest Night

The Longest Night


Reviewed by: Emma Slawinski

Six friends are reunited in a small country town, and decide to camp out in the woods – but they’re mistaken to think that the local gang of skinheads, who terrorised their adolescence, will leave them alone now.

In this debut feature, Till Kleinert gives us an original take on a familiar horror setup, pitting the friends against the thugs and then introducing an altogether different peril.

The strategy isn’t new – people tell ghost stories to spook each other, they get separated and lost, mobile phones fail, torches die, as generally happens in the cinematic dark woods. But Kleinert pushes beyond the structural stuff, creating subtle and shifting dynamics between the characters, and introducing a supernatural threat lurking in the woods. And if the revelation of the dark forms that are hiding there leads to a momentary anticlimax (introducing special effects is always difficult, particularly in a low budget film, as evidenced in the otherwise outstanding Let The Right One In), it’s not long before he picks up the pace and rebuilds the suspense.

Tightly scripted, The Longest Night gives its characters some meaty dialogue, and the actors run with it. They manage to convince of invisible relationships that span years, particularly Isabelle Höpfner as the acerbic, streetwise Frie, the only one of the group left behind in the small town, who has had to tough it out alone.

It also launches a caustic attack on bigotry as an obtuse nostalgia, with an eloquent tirade from one of the friends to one of the thugs. He and his cronies are the last people on earth, rotting in a world that doesn’t even exist to anyone else. But for all their tolerance and goodwill, the six suffer from some of the same symptoms. No matter, in the long view of history it will all come to nothing. And as the opening voiceover warned us, in hushed but menacing German, “This is your land. The land of your elders. Your home. Doesn’t matter how far you run away, you will always come back, in the end. We will wait for you.”

Kleinert and his cast have done an impressive job of injecting a done-to-death sub-genre with new ideas. A thoroughly enjoyable horror film, The Longest Night has surprises in store right up to the end.

Reviewed on: 09 Oct 2009
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The Longest Night packshot
Six friends on a camping trip are pursued by a gang of skinheads, but an even greater threat lurks in the woods.
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Director: Till Kleinert

Writer: Aaron Craemer, Till Kleinert

Starring: Isabelle Höpfner, Sarah Baumann, Volkram Zschiesche, Markus Staab-Poncet, Sebastian Stielke, Ulf Peter Schmidt, Sascha Kölzow, Mandy Rudski, Ketel Weber, Leo Solter

Year: 2009

Runtime: 91 minutes

Country: Germany


Raindance 2009

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