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Kevin Ignatius, Nick Psinakis
Brady O'Donnell, Carter O'Donnell, Trina Campbell
Writing Credits:
Kevin Ignatius, Nick Psinakis

After two impoverished teenage brothers manage to escape their abusive father, they embark on a treacherous and haunted journey in the hope of finding their estranged mother who has joined a sadistic cult

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English Dolby 5.1
English Dolby 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 79 min.
Price: $19.95
Release Date: 2/21/2023

• Bloopers/Behind the Scenes
• “Artist RL Black” Featurette
• Slideshow
• Trailer and Previews


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The Long Dark Trail [Blu-Ray] (2022)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 5, 2023)

Publicity materials tout 2022’s The Long Dark Trail as “Stand By Me meets Midsommar”. That sounds like a provocative combination of genres, though it remains to be seen if the film can live up to the billing.

Brothers Jacob (Brady O’Donnell) and Henry (Carter O’Donnell) struggle under the yolk of abusive father Duane (Mick Thyer). Tired of this miserable life, they flee.

The boys head off in search of their estranged mother (Trina Campbell). This leads them on a perilous trek across the woods of Northwest Pennsylvania, as they approach the crazed cult to which their mom now belongs.

Nothing about the premise and story of Trail set it up for failure. While a tale of kids who escape abuse and end up in an even more dire predicament doesn’t seem especially inventive, it still remains open for exploration.

Unfortunately, Trail pursues its narrative in such a meandering, dull manner that it squanders any potential it possesses. Even at a mere 79 minutes, it feels overly long and it just threatens to go nowhere too much of the time.

We get the most perfunctory introductions to the brothers and their father before they embark on their journey. Even this side of matters receives oddly little exposition, as we get a couple basic nods to their mother’s disappearance and bingo bango – road trip!

That’s where the comparisons to Stand By Me enter – and die a painful death. While that 1986 classic offers a fairly engaging look at adolescent friendships, Trail lacks any of the same insights.

Henry and Jacob barely interact on their journey, and little happens to them along the way. We get stuck with them as they wander through the woods and find little to make the trip interesting. They walk and walk and walk some more, without anything to make these shots involving.

Once the boys reach their destination, the film tends to offer a lot of moody music and various bits of violence. Nothing especially compelling happens beyond that, and the scenes indeed can feel goofy and silly instead of scary.

Trail manages to look and feel like a fairly professional production, so the photography and music don’t let it down. However, the directors can’t figure out how to pace the story, and the actors seem amateurish at best.

I really do hate to criticize non-adult performers, but when a movie places two teens in the leads, it becomes impossible to ignore their impact. Both O’Donnell boys lack the basic ability to create natural characters, as they persistently feel stiff and awkward.

Given that we need to connect to the kids, this turns into a major problem. The O’Donnells leave a major hole at the heart of the film due to their unconvincing performances.

That said, the most talented actors in the world wouldn’t save this dull tale. Slow and tedious, Trail fails to work.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus D

The Long Dark Trail appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie brought a good but unexceptional presentation.

Overall delineation felt largely positive. Occasional lower-light shots tended to seem a bit on the soft side, but these didn’t dominate, so the majority of the flick appeared pretty well-defined.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws remained absent.

Colors leaned toward a mix of greens, ambers and blues. The hues could feel somewhat dense, but they worked fine within the movie’s visual confines.

Blacks seemed fairly deep and tight, while shadows came across as smooth and clear. Expect a mostly positive image.

As for the movie’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, it lost points due to its lossy nature. In 2023, no Blu-ray should lack a lossless option.

Outside of that drawback, this became largely pleasing mix, with a soundfield that emphasized general atmosphere. However, some more violent scenes added zing to the impression.

As such, the soundfield sporadically kicked to life. Otherwise it showed positive stereo spread for music and formed a satisfactory impression of the different locations.

Audio quality worked fine, with speech that seemed natural and concise. Music showed nice warmth and range.

Effects also appeared accurate and full. Even with the lossy nature of the mix, the track worked pretty well.

A few extras round out the disc, and Bloopers/Behind the Scenes runs three minutes, 47 seconds. It provides a forgettable collection of shots from the set.

Artist RL Black goes for one minute, 39 seconds and features writer/director/actor Nick Psinakis. He tells us a little about the graphic novel adaptation by Black in this brief promo piece.

A Slideshow spans two minutes, 37 seconds and brings s running montage of stills. It shows 33 shots from the movie and the production to become a decent compilation.

In addition to the trailer for The Long Dark Trail, we locate some Previews. These give us ads for The Ghosts of Monday, Frost, AK Tolstoy’s A Taste of Blood, Escape from Area 51, Baphomet and Scavenger.

As a low-budget indie horror movie, The Long Dark Trail manages to look and sound professional. Unfortunately, it tells a terribly dull story and also suffers from amateurish acting. The Blu-ray comes with generally positive picture and audio but only sports minor bonus materials. Don’t expect any thrills from this forgettable slice of horror.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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