By: David De La Riva
A melancholic traversal through time and existentialism, Mattie Do’s THE LONG WALK is a perplexing horror film that will leave audiences astounded, amazed, and afraid.
Uniqueness is a rare commodity in storytelling in this day and age. In a world where it feels like every story has already been told to death, Mattie Do’s THE LONG WALK proves to be an extraordinary exception to that very rule. The first and only female director to come from Laos, Do’s incredible hold on filmmaking and storytelling is a masterful achievement to behold. With her creative partner, writer Christopher Larsen, the pare tell a winding tale of mysteries and grief that will give US audiences a taste of the creativity in Laos, and leave them starving for more.
THE LONG WALK is a mystery that thrives in the unknown. Following a young boy (Por Silatasa) in the poverty-stricken futuristic environment of Laos, our story begins when The Boy discovers the remains of a young girl. Although he tries to escape her, suddenly The Boy sees The Girl (Noutnapha Soydara) everywhere he looks. She has become a supernatural entity that, for one reason or another, is obsessed with The Boy. While trepidatious at first, the two form a bond as time goes on, but revelations of an even greater threat arises.
Mirroring The Boy’s story is the tale of The Old Man (Yannawoutthi Chanthalungsy) and his quest for survival. A hunter-gatherer selling that which he finds to the local merchants, The Old Man has many secrets, most noticeably being he can speak to the dead. His reputation precedes him, as he is often questioned by the local authorities to help unsolved mysteries. One day, a young woman by the name of Lina (Vilouna Phetmany) asks if he can help her speak to her mother one last time. The two form a strange bond, but as time goes on, The Old Man’s dark and twisted past comes to light.
THE LONG WALK first captivates audiences with the jarring juxtaposition that this futuristic adaptation of Laos presents. Simultaneously gorgeous in its natural environment and off-putting when comparing it to the glimpses of futuristic modernizations in the distance, Do herself claims to want to call out the “poverty-porn” that is often romanticized in modern films. Barefoot farmers working to make ends meet paired with futuristic holographic read-outs that appear from the same farmers’ skin. There's a family living in a rundown shell of a house and storekeepers remark on a time a thousand years ago when our modern-day technology was “primitive.” Suddenly questions of romanticizing materialistic needs are followed by examinations of time.
What is today except tomorrow's yesterday? Time in and of itself becomes a concept that is more riddled and convoluted the further we travel down this stories’ path. While some will choose to poke holes in the most sci-fi-esque elements of the film, Do herself couldn't care less about these nitpicks. These sci-fi elements are simply used as a tool, a means to challenge both science and the supernatural. The story she wants to tell is not in the minutia, but instead is in the depths of the psyche and the heart. What happens when the mistakes of our past come back to haunt us? Are we born monsters… or do we become them?
THE LONG WALK is a story encapsulating grief, sorrow, anger, and pain - a haunting ghost story that uses emotion and regret to fuel its evocative message. Mattie Do has proven herself to be not only one of the best female directors in all of Laos, but arguably one of the best directors currently working in cinema, as she has given horror fans a ghost story for the ages.
THE LONG WALK is available on digital and on-demand starting March 1.