A man who speaks to the dead is taken back in the past to face his mother’s passing and find a part of himself.
Written by Christopher Larsen and directed by Mattie Do, this sci-fi film has some strong horror tones to it, making it a film that will appeal to horror fans as well as sci-fi fans. In fact, while it is listed as a sci-fi film on most sites, it is squarely a horror film considering the presence of ghosts and horrible deaths. The story here is about more than just horror and sci-fi, this is a film about humanity, legacy, and how one can make peace with the past. There is a lot in this film and each viewer will take with them what fits them. This is the kind of film that requires attention, doesn’t treat its audience like they are dumb, leaves some questions unanswered, and leads viewers wanting to see it again just about as soon as it ends. The characters here are complex, the story is rich in themes and interest, and the whole becomes an easy to watch, easy to rewatch film that will bring something to the table each time it is rewatched.
The cast here is mostly Lao with a few outsiders brought in here and there. The lead is listed as simply “The Old Man” and is played by Yannawoutthi Chanthalungsy who does amazing work keeping his character mostly under wraps until he needs him to be more open. He shows emotions and restraint in just the right balance and ways, giving the character something more, something that feels like even at the end of the film, there is more to him that we have yet to see. Playing someone who ends up staying with him and changing his live in a way is Vilouna Phetmany as Lina. Her work here has the right amount of both contempt and compassion. She straddles the line between these two throughout her time in the film and shows that sometimes, these two feelings can be quite close to each other. Playing the girl, the connection to the past and the present and perhaps the future is Noutnapha Soydara who turns in a subtle and effective performance. She is there for an important reason and yet she erases herself at times in a way that shows that she understands what serves the story best. The rest of the cast is also fairly stellar to absolutely fantastic, turning the film into an ensemble performance to remember.
Another strong aspect of The Long Walk is the cinematography. The work by Zohar Michel sets the tone and shows the world that these characters live in. May it be present, past, or future, there is something desolate in the landscape and how it’s depicted. There is also something beautiful and sad in the images. This is the kind of film that pulls the viewer in with stunning images and lulls them into comfort with a steady visual style that allows them to get in deep before things take a turn for the unusual. This is the kind of work that is worth seeking out for the sake of seeing these images.
In a film where characters do not have names, except for one, the story shows that humanity and what connects us is more than that, more than a name, more than a place. That humanity and emotions can create bonds that last beyond death. The Long Walk tells a story of humanity, legacy, connection, and how meeting different people can change someone’s life, even if these people may already be dead. This is a film all about people and their emotions and it takes its time to set this up beautifully and completely as a universe of its own, a present, past, and future that feels very real, even when supernatural elements are introduced. This is the kind of film to watch in silence with all available attention and then some on the screen.