The Long Walk - that boy again

NZIFF 2020 – The Long Walk REVIEW

July 29, 2020
2 mins read
NZIFF 2020 – The Long Walk REVIEW


NZIFF 2020 – The Long Walk REVIEW

Director – Mattie Do

Starring – Yannawoutthi Chanthalungsy (old man), Por Silatsa (boy), Noutnapha Soydara (girl), Vilouna Phetmany (Lina)

It’s got everything: ghosts, horror, drama, sci-fi and exotic forest setting. But is The Long Walk any good, asks GARY STEEL?

The Long Walk – the mysterious medicine man

I’ve learned not to take film festival programme descriptions seriously over the years, but the write-up for The Long Walk made it sound utterly irresistible: “Somehow both thoughtful and thrilling, Laotian-American filmmaker Mattie Do’s ghostly time-travel tale unravels into unexpected places, blending intimate drama with tense horror and sci-fi genre elements.”

Wow! That blurb contains all the ingredients of a fantastic filmic experience. Everyone wants “thoughtful” and “thrilling” on the same page, and then there’s the prospect of a film based in an exotic location but with engaging “intimate drama” and – not to be outdone! – ghosts, sci-fi and horror as well!

The Long Walk – the boy who sees ghosts

I just had to watch it. But in reality, The Long Walk is more like The Longest Slow Crawl. I mean, I had to do yoga exercises on the floor just to keep me awake, and I hate yoga.

Parts of that hyperbole-laden description are true enough. It does have an exotic location and the lush rural feel pervades the film and gives it an aura of its own. There are touches of horror and the supernatural and every now and then we’re reminded through deftly rendered CGI that it’s set sometime in the sci-fi future.

The Long Walk – ghost of a dead girl

But a lot of the time I couldn’t really figure what the fuck was going on and – the clincher – I couldn’t really be bothered making the effort to find out. The Long Walk stars Yannawoutthi Chanthalungsy as a vaping medicine man/spirit talker with a basement full of secrets. A demented woman goes missing from the local village. He finds the mutilated body. Did he do that? And if so, why?

Meanwhile, a young boy whose family is starving and mother is dying of cancer has found the dead body of a young woman whose ghost follows him around.

The Long Walk – that boy again

At nearly two hours it feels overlong and there are too many meaningful shots of the characters and not a lot happening.

I’m giving it a slightly better than average rating because, as they say, it’s all about location, location, location. Also, for all its flaws I’m sure that more intelligent viewers than myself will dig out more meaning from its confounding layers.

* The Long Walk is available to stream online from July 31 to August 6.

Check out Witchdoctor’s New Zealand International Film Festival reviews:

Corpus Christi

Last And First Men


The Long Walk

Paradise Drifters

Leap Of Faith: William Friedkin On The Exorcist

Coded Bias

The Kingmaker

Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highway

Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets


Kubrick By Kubrick

Sick, Sick, Sick

Steel has been penning his pungent prose for 40 years for publications too numerous to mention, most of them consigned to the annals of history. He is Witchdoctor's Editor-In-Chief/Music and Film Editor. He has strong opinions and remains unrepentant. Steel's full bio can be found here

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