Longlegs: Is the Horror Movie Based on True Events?

‘Longlegs’ narrates the chilling story of an FBI agent racing against time to stop a satanic serial killer before he claims the lives of another family. Agent Lee Harker (Maika Monroe) uncovers grizzly murders committed by a killer called Longlegs and begins to trace his steps, only to find a connection with her own past. As she delves into the sinister symbolisms and twisted mind of the titular killer, Harker must act quickly if she is to save his next prey from meeting a brutal end. The Oz Perkins directorial interweaves the terror of a psychopath with unsettling occult elements and gratuitous violence, creating an at once refreshingly unique yet somewhat familiar horror experience.

Longlegs Draws Inspiration From Oz Perkins’ Experiences and Love For ’90s Horror

The reminiscence of ‘Longlegs’ arises from a deliberate effort by writer-director Osgood Robert Perkins II AKA Oz to recreate aspects of the works of horror that have inspired him. At the same time, he infused the story with deeply personal undertones that connect back to the protagonist and his own past. However, the movie’s story itself is fictional, with the filmmaker spinning the lore around it into a translucent mist, which lends itself to creating a sense of depth and authenticity.

To delve into the personal inspirations embedded in the film’s plot, we need to know a little about Oz Perkins’ family history. He is the son of actor Anthony Perkins who is renowned as a cultural icon best known for portraying the character of Norman Bates — the murderous antagonist who harbors an unhealthy obsession with his mother — in Alfred Hitchcock‘s ‘Psycho.’ In fact, his mother, Berry Berenson, was also an actress and model. Their seemingly perfect household had a secret that the mother hid from her children. “In the case of my family, I was dealing with public-figure parents. My father was a gay man who was closeted, and in the world that we lived in, it wasn’t acceptable. And it still isn’t, as insane as that is,” said Perkins in an interview. “My mother made this decision that that wasn’t going to be true for our family.”

The fact that his mother had hidden the truth about their father from him and his brother to protect them stuck with Perkins, and he wanted to explore the theme in his work. Anthony Perkins passed away from AIDS-related complications in 1992. Berry Berenson died in the September 11 attacks when the first airliner hit the World Trade Center. With his film ‘Gretel & Hansel,’ Oz Perkins did not have control over the script and could not make the necessary changes. But for ‘Longlegs,’ he based the film around the reality that a mother can lie out of love, a theme that is explored with Lee Harker and her mother, who is shown to be a psychic medium. Interestingly, Berry Berenson came from a line of supposed psychic mediums.

Invoking the Golden Age of Serial Killer Movies

In the aforementioned interview, Perkins said, “Everything I try to do, I try to make it about myself, only so that it creates a truth for me and an honesty, and I know I’m never full of shit if I’m talking about myself. As coded as it might be and as many layers of other stuff on it that there are, at the end of the day, all the movies I generate are essentially based on my experience, and that tends to be my experience with my parents.” He was incredibly passionate about the creation of ‘Longlegs,’ and leaned into his own love for the genre by invoking storytelling elements from movies like ‘Seven,’ ‘Manhunter,’ and ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ that defined the golden age of serial killer films.

Owing to the aforementioned fact, the Nicholas Cage starrer is set in the 1990s to bring it atmospherically closer to such works and into a time when the filmmaker enjoyed such films in his teenage years. When it came to worldbuilding for the film, Perkins created a sense of profound depth to the occult world that the characters delve into. When asked about how he went about lore building, he candidly explained his process of making complete fiction believable. “I make up only as much as is needed to sort of sit on the top like magic shell,” explained Perkins in an interview. “The density of the mythology is about magic shell dense because it’s just coating; the real stuff is much, much further down. So I kind of try to just bullshit as well as I can.”

‘Longlegs’ is a passion project that gave Oz Perkins the creative liberties he had long sought to weave together personal themes, horror homages, and his creative flair. The core story idea of the movie is inspired by his mother’s well-meaning lies about his father’s sexuality, while its setting and more violent elements are drawn from the ‘90s serial killer movies ‘Seven’ and ‘The Silence of the Lambs.’ The filmmaker breathed further authenticity into the fictional tale through intricate worldbuilding that increases the depth of its occult elements and contributes to the terrifying aura of Nicolas Cage’s Longlegs himself.

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