Following the critically acclaimed Dearest Sister, Laos’s first female director, Mattie Do, has crafted another enigmatic tale that sets itself apart from the usual horror fare, offering plenty of genre pleasures while retaining an arthouse aesthetic. In an impoverished Laotian village, an unnamed farmer (Yannawoutthi Chanthalungsy) leads a near-hermit-like existence. His daily rituals involve scavenging for metal scraps, which he sells for little money. His reticent demeanour, however, betrays none of his discontent.

Yet, just as secrets lie beneath the landscape, he has skeletons in his closet. He is haunted by his mother’s death from severe lung disease, and while people whisper about his ability to speak to the dead, no one knows that, since his childhood encounter with a ghost, he has taken it upon himself to relieve dying women of their suffering by euthanising them. As their apparitions wander for eternity, these spectres embody his own inability to break free of the past.

The film takes place in a near future where the government injects everyone with a surveillance chip, but the otherworldly plot is grounded by exacting characterisation. Chanthalungsy is astounding in his portrayal of a man so consumed with regret that his humanity slowly shreds away. Enthralled by his new ability to travel back in time to influence the course of his mother’s passage into the next life, he is blind to how his interventions result in frightening consequences.

Blurring the line between good intentions and selfishness, The Long Walk is a chilling and wholly original exploration of destructive human desires.

The Long Walk is released on 28 February on digital platforms.



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