The Long Walk

By RodneyHatfieldJr for Reviews
Back when the theaters began opening back up, I went to see The Long Walk. It was billed as a paranormal. And it was, as well as sci-fi, psychological, and thriller. After watching it, I did a little more studying. The Long Walk is directed by Mattie Do, the first female Lao director. This is the first horror film ever produced in Laos. The Long Walk, is very ambitious step forward considering it is a horror and sci-fi concept told in a time-traveling journey spanning decades. 

The Long Walk has already gained praise in the film festival circuit,  and now will be released on demand March 1st. It has also been playing in select theaters in the US, the first Lao film to do so. This just reinforces my love of Asian cinema.

The Long Walk follows the wandering life of The Old Man (Yannawoutthi Chanthalungsy), a scavenger in a near-futuristic rural Laotian city that blends advanced technology with a traditional culture that caters to tourists. This man, shrouded in darkness and mystery, has the ability to see certain ghosts, including a mute woman who has been his walking companion for over 50 years after witnessing her death. Through this woman, he finds out he can travel 50 years into the past, right before his father abandons their family and his mother dies of tuberculosis, an event that has always haunted him. He attempts to prevent this in the past, but finds his actions have consequences on the future. 

I am going to keep this review as spoiler free as possible, but this story is devastatingly bleak and heartbreakingly brutal. The sci-fi elements here are superb, especially blending with the Lao landscape and lifestyle. Chanthalungsy portrays his flawed character, being both relatable and hateable for his choices. His gloomy, meditative perspective is always present and felt in his journey from beginning to end. 

His younger self, played by Por Silatsa is cute and wonderful. He stands in opposition with his hardened adult self, experiencing joy, pain, fear and companionship in a naive way at a tumultuous time in his young life. The contrast between the two at different time periods of life and in society represents an interesting picture of Laos through cause and effect. 

All of the characters and acting in this film are compelling and unique. Visually this film takes place entirely in the lush forests of Laos farmland. While the outside influence contras everything. When western NGOs(I had to look up what that meant. Non Government Organization) continually visit his poor family’s farm to bring progress. There is a disconnection, useless gesture that ignores the actual needs of the Lao people. The best part that represents this is when they installing solar panels on a farm that doesn’t even have a tractor. His father reacts to this by remarking, “at least we’ll have enough light to watch each other as we starve to death.”

The Long Walk focusing on the complexities of human emotion, this film stays intimate while also engaging with a wider content. It blends a ghost story, with sci-fi to make for a time travel odyssey through the darkness of humanity.  It hits the VOD market on March 1st. If you’re not familiar with Do’s other work, her previous horror film Dearest Sister can be watched on Shudder. Check out the trailer for The Long Walk below. 

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