Patience is rewarded when viewing director Mattie Do‘s “The Long Walk,” an atypical ghost story that blends elements of science fiction, fantasy, and horror into a sophisticated, thoughtful drama about past regrets and the need for connection not only in our present lives, but with those from our past. This film features a meaningful story that’s wistful, disturbing, and surprising. The less you know about this one before watching, the better.
A hermit (Yannawoutthi Chanthalungsy) has lived alone in his rural village for years. Nowadays, he wanders the dusty, isolated roads of Laos with the spirit of a young woman who died by his side five decades earlier. She serves as his bridge between the hereafter and the present, possessing the ability to transport him back in time.
The old man has been haunted since he was a young boy because his mother died of an incurable illness, and with the help of his ghostly friend, returns to talk to his younger self (Por Silatsa) and attempt to right the wrongs of his past. It seems that the man has always felt a strong need to do his part to end the suffering of terminally ill women, and has committed some truly horrifying acts in the name of mercy.
The story (screenplay by Christopher Larsen) jumps around in time (which may seem difficult to follow at first), but it gets easier with the film’s extremely effective pacing. The secrets aren’t revealed too early, leaving much in the hands of the audience to decipher the mystery.
The fantasy of getting to go back in time to reset your life and talk to dead loved ones is something that would appeal to almost everyone on the planet, and it’s a theme that’s used in a new and different way here. The old man has the ability to communicate with the dead, but he causes more suffering by doing so.
This isn’t a traditional scary thriller, but it does feature some classic horror elements like eerie mood lighting and an unsettling original score to set the tone. It’s one of those contemplative films that takes its time, but the payoff is tremendous.
“The Long Walk” is a deeply moving and atmospheric film that’s complex and thought-provoking. It’s an original and different take on the ghost story genre.
By: Louisa Moore