21st Feb2023

‘The Long Dark Trail’ Review

by James Rodrigues

Stars: Carter O’Donnell, Brady O’Donnell, Trina Campbell, Michael Thyer | Written and Directed by Nick Psinakis, Kevin Ignatius

Opening on a foreboding score and the sight of a cabin in the woods, viewers are introduced to the home where brothers Henry (Carter O’Donnell) and Jacob (Brady O’Donnell) live in fear of their abusive father. After waking up early and tying up their father, the teens take a journey through Northwest Pennsylvania woods to find their cult member mother. Despite the boys taking time to have fun and enjoy their summer, the horrific experiences linger in their minds. No matter how far they travel, the boys cannot escape the terrors endured at their father’s hands.

Co-writers/directors Nick Psinakis and Kevin Ignatius effectively utilise the setting, as aerial shots capture the never-ending feel of this wilderness where hints of a tangible terror lurk within. This is effectively paired with Ignatius’ score, which conveys the everyday sights as effectively as the otherworldly elements hidden within.

What’s less successful are the moments where implication gives way to unconvincing effects work, while stilted performances pop up throughout to glaring effect.

Despite the unknown dangers surrounding them, the brothers won’t stop moving forward after experiencing horrors within the sanctity of their home. While carrying stolen necessities vital for their survival, the pair are driven by the hope their mother represents. It leads them to an unfortunate third act which feels out of place, seemingly born from an uncertainty of how to wrap up the story.

While a set goal feels apparent for the characters, there’s a lacking confidence about what route the journey there should take, or even how to fill that story to feature length. The aimless focus leaves the slender 78-minute runtime feeling dragged out, right up to the ending implying the horrors aren’t as easily escapable as one hopes.

** 2/5

The Long Dark Trail is released today on demand, on digital, Blu-ray and DVD, in the US, from Cleopatra Entertainment.


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