Movie Review: The Long Dark Trail (2022 – Cleopatra Blu-ray)

February 11, 2023

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Things are mega-shitty for two teenage brothers (Brady and Carter O’Donnell) in rural Pennsylvania.

How so you may (or may not) ask?

Well, their beloved mother has flown the coop, and Daddy Dearest is an abusive dick second to none. It’s that last point that inspires our heroes to beat feet out of the cabin the family calls home, and begin a trek into the wicked woods that surround their abode.

As they trek through the verdant forests in search of their mother they begin to realize there is something sinister among the trees and streams… namely a pagan cult that may be worse than the home-based horrors they faced previous!

Writer/directors Kevin Ignatius and Nick Psinakis do a lot right with The Long Dark Trail. For starters, the story is a deft blend of Stand By Me-style dark childhood journey mixed with folk horror cult goodness that works incredibly well from a narrative stand point.

This story is helped immeasurably by the densely wooded environs that our intrepid heroes must trek through in the search for their estranged mother, and said locations are presented as both beautiful and terrifying in equal measure (and extra kudos to the sumptuous cinematography courtesy of  Mitchell Kome).

Adding to the vibe is a solid electronic soundtrack (provided by Ignatius) that makes this flick seem like it could come from the eerie ’80s… which is a solid choice as this flick has that Stephen King aesthetic mentioned earlier (and the various adventures our protagonists find themselves in being presented as “chapters” only helps in that department).

Also worth a mention are the brief gore/body horror (lite) sequences present here which are realized via some impressive practical effects… it’s the ghoulish goods when it appears my cats n’ creeps!

Enhancing the experience are the selection of special features assembled for this Blu-ray release from Cleopatra Entertainment  which include: a blooper/behind-the-scenes reel, an image slideshow, the film’s trailer, and a brief interview with Psinakis where he discusses the involvement of absolutely genius artist R.L. Black in the film’s production (look for Black’s awesomely arcane art during the film’s ending credits).

All in all, The Long Dark Trail is an effective, dark as midnight, coming-of-age tale that should appeal to fans of King and Stranger Things, so high praise indeed!




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