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Long Time Dead. (Film Reviews).


A UIP (in U.K.)/Universal Focus (in U.S.) release of a Working Title Films presentation, in association with Film Council, of a W[T.sup.2] production, in association with Midfield Films. Produced by James Gay-Rees. Executive producers, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner. Co-producers, Jon Finn, Natascha Wharton.

Directed by Marcus Adams. Screenplay, Eitan Arrusi, Daniel Bronzite, Chris Baker, Andy Day; stow, Bronzite, Adams, James Gay-Rees. Camera (Technicolor prints), Nic Morris; editor, Lucia Zucchetti; additional editor, Niven Howie; music, Don Davis; production designer, Alison Riva; art director, Jane Tomblin; costume designer, Pamela Blundell; sound (Dolby), Simon Okin, Sandy Macrae, Tim Alban; stunt coordinator, Tom Delmar; special effects, Any Effects; prosthetic makeup, Carter White FX; visual effects supervisor, Ed Hawkins; digital visual effects, the Moving Picture Co.; assistant director, Max Keene; casting, Andy Pryor. Reviewed at Mr. Young's preview theater, London, Dec. 13, 2001. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 91 MIN.

With: Joe Absolom, Lara Belmont, Melanie Gutteridge, Lukas Haas, James Hillier, Alee Newman, Mel Raido, Marsha Thomason, Tom Bell, Michael Feast, Cyril Nri, Nicolas Chagrin, Tameka Empson, Peter Gevisser, Derek Lea, Joel Pitts, Pete Valente.

A pesky Moroccan djinn starts taking out a group of students who roused it via a Ouija board in "Long Time Dead," a shake `n' bake British youth-horror pic that's pure multiplex fare. Tight pacing, a down-to-the-bone storyline and a highly worked soundtrack ensure a decent number of thrills and chills, signaling a fast cleanup among undemanding auds prior to a healthy reincarnation on video.

Shot in London back in the summer of 2000, film is the second production -- following "Billy Elliot" -- from Working Title's subsidiary banner, W[T.sup.2], whose goal is to make "low-budget films that people want to go and see." With a grungier look than most U.S. genre models, it's still a fairly slick piece of work, without overdosing on digital effects for their own sake. And in tempo and atmosphere it's a major step up from similar British genre movies of the `70s. First-time feature helmer Marcus Adams began in music promos and commercials.

Intro, set underground in Morocco 1979, sketches a satanic ritual that ends in grisly death and destruction. In present-day London, a bunch of students go to a warehouse party, get mildly loaded and, for a laugh, dabble with a Ouija board in a back room. When the glass goes wild and spells out "die," the body count starts with the spectacular death through a skylight of Annie (Melanie Gutteridge), g.f. of Liam (Alec Newman), who's troubled by Moroccan flashbacks.

Lucy (Marsha Thomason), who happens to be into the occult, reckons they've accidentally summoned a djinn. Said Arabian fire demon can only become free when whoever summoned it is dead--which bodes ill for the longtime health prospects of the entire group.

For safety, Lucy stays that night with the rest of the group in their shared house. When a fuse blows in the basement, Yank computer nerd Webster (Lukas Haas) and Lucy's b.f., Spence (James Hillier), discover a collection of occult clippings and a dossier on the Morocco disaster in the room of their weird landlord, Becker (Tom Bell).

Meanwhile, Liam, whose father is still in stir for the Morocco massacre despite claiming it was the work of a demon, is starting to look badly bent out of shape. And then -- in the movie's most effective sequence -- another in the group, Stella (Lara Belmont), is bloodily battered to death in a toilet stall. Becker tells them he can help by performing a "banishing," to send the naughty djinn back whence it came.

The largely no-name but solidly experienced young cast performs well together, with Tomason, Haas and Newman making the greatest impression. The alternately creepy-crawly/crashing score by Don Davis, a past master at this kind of thing ("The Matrix," "Jurassic Park III"), and the busy sound-effects track both help keep the mind diverted from the hokey plot, and lensing by Nic Morris gives the whole thing a gritty London flavor.
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Author:Elley, Derek
Article Type:Movie Review
Date:Jan 21, 2002
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