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The hype is well warranted for the uberly creepy Longlegs.

The renowned actor-turned-director Oz Perkins seeks to captivate audiences with his second feature film, "Longlegs," distributed by Neon. Perkins is not only the director but also the writer of the film, which features a stellar cast, including the talented Maika Monroe, the legendary Nicholas Cage, the versatile Blair Underwood, and the captivating Alicia Witt.

Agent Lee Harker (portrayed by Monroe) is a promising investigator who frequently collaborates with her superior, Agent Carter (depicted by Blair Underwood), who characterizes her as "half-psychic." The pair's most recent investigation centers on a malefactor of the same name, who appears connected to a series of familial homicides. Harker and Carter have identified a seeming inconsistency in these incidents: while they initially appear to be cases of murder-suicide with no external involvement, each crime scene has been marked with coded written messages attributed to Longlegs.

Furthermore, Alicia Witt plays Lee's mother, and Nicolas Cage portrays the titular character; these are the only significant details you need to know about the film. However, I must emphasize that the film's distinct approach doesn't rely on jump scares to unsettle its audience. Perkins's atmosphere is a unique blend of elevated horror and throwback, sure to pique your interest.

Additionally, commendations are given to the marketing department for honoring the director's vision to preserve the mystery surrounding Nicolas Cage's portrayal as the titular serial killer until audiences experience it firsthand in theaters. This strategic decision heightened anticipation and intensified public curiosity about how wildly versatile the Oscar winner would appear. The film subtly addresses this question in its prologue—assuming one doesn't blink at an inopportune moment. Simultaneously, Maika Monroe delivers a standout performance in the lead role. During our press screening, I told a fellow critic that she exudes a young Holly Hunter vibe reminiscent of 1995's "Copycat."

After her success with "It Follows," Monroe was expected to follow the path of the next 'Scream Queen.' However, she has taken a surprising and rewarding turn in 'Longlegs.' Her nuanced portrayal, characterized by minimalistic yet practical facial expressions, is nearly award-worthy. Blair Underwood and Alicia Witt also deserve a mention for their performances.

Underwood brings his usual charm, while Witt appears to have discovered a new niche in her acting repertoire with several remarkable moments on screen. As for Director Oz Perkins, from the gripping opening minutes to the closing credits that pay homage to a classic '90s thriller, he showcases considerable potential as an emerging force in horror cinema, leaving me hopeful for his future projects.

Before its release, "Longlegs" was praised by many as the scariest horror film of the decade. After seeing the movie, I can say that I share that sentiment. The film stuck with me for days after my press screening, and it will surely earn a slot in my year's ten best. "Longlegs is highly recommended.

Final Grade: A

"Longlegs" is theaters today


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