An old scavenger living on the fringes of a near-future society exploits a ghostly companion’s ability to traverse time, hoping to prevent his mother’s suffering from a terminal illness.
THE LONG WALK world premiered to great acclaim at the Venice Film Festival in the Giornate degli Autori section and was followed by praise out of the Toronto International Film Festival. It’s the third feature of Lao based director Mattie Do (Chanthaly, Dearest Sister), whose career has been recognized by the Oldenburg International Film Festival and Locarno International Film Festival for her breakthrough work as Laos’ first and only woman filmmaker, and the only filmmaker of the country to work in the horror and fantastic genres.
For in-depth thoughts on The Long Walk, please see my colleague Devin McGrath-Conwell’s review from its original theatrical release here.
Additionally, please check out our interview with director Mattie Do here.
The Long Walk makes its Blu-Ray debut with a beautiful 1080p video presentation that showcases the cinematography well. The production design and shooting locations, along with the special effects makeup, provide crystal clear textural details. The black levels reveal slight signs of banding in a few scenes, but largely they maintain their depth. The flesh tones are natural with a magnificent amount of detail present in close-ups. The image is clean with the nuanced, natural color palette popping off the screen. The film employs some deep colors when the expanses of nature are featured, which makes for a very vibrant image. The presentation shows off an impressive amount of depth, especially in the locked rooms where people are held. Overall this Blu-Ray is a strong representation of this movie that should more than please fans.
Yellow Veil Pictures makes the joyous decision to give this Blu-Ray a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track instead of the Dolby Digital 5.1 lossy audio that was provided for their past releases. The results are readily apparent with the nimble and effective sound design which sounds wonderful here. Environmental sounds of the world engage the surround speakers in a very immersive way. When the characters are moving through the vegetation, there are some distinct ambient details that flesh out the setting. Dialogue always comes through clearly without being clipped by any competing sounds. The score is effective and well-balanced while maintaining its fidelity. Hard-hitting moments are not a consistent part of this track, but a few moments deliver some nice texture to the proceedings. The audio track provides a really rich experience full of nuances that bring this narrative to life exactly how it was intended. This film is presented in the original Lao with optional English subtitles.
- Introduction: An optional five-minute introduction from director Mattie Do in which she expresses her excitement and gratitude over this film being on Blu-Ray, explains the struggle to get this film made on a miniscule budget, touches on some of the themes at play within the film and more. This is a great start to the experience that you will want to check out either before or after your first viewing.
- Audio Commentary: Director Mattie Do, Producer Douangmany Soliphanh, and actress Totlina provide a lively and informative mixed-language commentary track with optional subtitles in which they discuss the movie and production in depth. The trio discuss incorporating Lao customs into the narrative, the collaborative nature of the set, the special effects makeup (that attracted ants), the camera movements, incorporating sci-fi elements into a natural looking world and more. This helps give you a deeper understanding of the film in a way that will reward you on your next viewing. Plus, it is genuinely refreshing to hear Do express how pleased she is with some of her camera techniques.
- Audio Commentary #2: Producer David Lawson & Filmmaker Robert Cargill, both friends of Mattie Do, provide a great commentary track in which they offer a fan perspective of the material including their appreciation of the genre-bending nature of the feature, the structure which keeps invested throughout, how Do depicts the future, their take on the character journey and more. It is a blast hearing these friends admire and dig into the film in real time which offers a very different experience than the other track.
- Q&A With Alexandra Heller-Nicholas: A 53-minute virtual conversation with director Mattie Do (looking very stylish) in which she discusses her unusual path to filmmaking, her hilarious misconception of film festivals, the pressure to not mess up opportunities for “Western” (English-language) projects as a woman of color, how the movie plays with time travel and more. It is impossible not to love Do after watching this.
- Deleted Scenes: Four scenes of unused material totaling seven minutes are provided here featuring the old man tending to Lina’s mother longer, additional scenes between Lina and the policeman and more. These scenes are provided with optional commentary from Mattie Do.
- Theatrical Trailer: The two-minute trailer is provided here.
- Booklet: A multi-page booklet featuring the essay “Wandering Ghosts: Mattie Do’s The Long Walk” from writer Shelagh Rowan-Legg is provided here. This piece gives a well-rounded analysis of the themes and plot developments of the film which strengthens your comprehension overall.
The Long Walk offers up a unique take on the typical ghost story with various genre-bending elements that hold strong roots in Lao culture. The direction from Mattie Do is downright masterful, taking great care with every moment and putting together a rewarding puzzle right in front of your very eyes. The performances are incredibly strong across the board, and the narrative is one that rewards the more you engage with it. Yellow Veil Pictures and Vinegar Syndrome have released a Blu-Ray featuring a terrific A/V presentation and a great assortment of special features. Mattie Do has proven herself to be a director who should have you first in line for her next project. Highly Recommended
The Long Walk is currently available to purchase on Standard Edition Blu-Ray or with a Limited Edition Slipcover exclusively through Vinegar Syndrome.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Yellow Veil Pictures and Vinegar Syndrome have supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.