Longlegs director is so creeped out by true crime content, he purposefully avoided it while making the serial killer horror

(Image credit: Neon)

Longlegs is entirely fictitious but with its early '90s setting, Satanic panic undertones, and coded letter-writing serial killer antagonist, it can't help but give off serious true crime vibes. With that, you might assume writer-director Osgood Perkins looked into some real-life cases for inspiration. The Zodiac's, perhaps? Turns out, though, that couldn't be further from reality...

"I can't look at real things. I don't like them. They don't sit well with me. I don't want to know," the filmmaker admits to GamesRadar+ and the Inside Total Film podcast. "All this stuff couldn't be more fictionalized and totally made up. That's part of the fun of it [for] me. It's like, 'Oh, that's how FBI people probably talk. Oh, that's how they would probably come into a room. I don't know, maybe it's something like this'. It's part of what keeps it light for me, honestly. I'm not interested in what these sickos do. To me, this is a different kind of poem, you know, and it's totally just make believe."

Starring Alicia Witt, Blair Underwood, Maika Monroe, and Nicolas Cage, Longlegs follows kind-of-psychic FBI Agent Lee Harker, as she's tasked with reopening an unsolved serial killer case. As she delves deeper into the mystery, she discovers links to the occult, and a disturbingly personal connection to the murderer. Will she be able to find, and stop them, before they strike again?

Over the last few weeks, critics have branded it "disturbing", a "cinematic freak-fest forged in Hell by Satan", and even gone so far as to call it "the scariest film of the decade", which has left Perkins kind of baffled, given that he didn't necessarily set out to disturb anyone.

"The world is ugly enough as it is, you know? Brutality against people is not that cool," he explains, when we ask why it was so important for him to obscure most of the film's violence. "So you put it off screen, because it's imperative to what's going on in the story but you try to couch it a little bit. I'm not trying to upset anybody, and I know that people have been having very strong reactions to this movie but honestly? I just tried to make something that I thought was kind of pretty."

Longlegs creeps into cinemas on July 12. In the meantime, check out our list of the best horror movies of all time, or our guide to the most exciting upcoming horror movies heading our way. 

Listen out for more of our chat with Perkins on the upcoming episode of Inside Total Film, which is available on Apple, Audioboom, Spotify, and more.

Amy West

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things TV and film across our Total Film and SFX sections. Elsewhere, my words have been published by the likes of Digital Spy, SciFiNow, PinkNews, FANDOM, Radio Times, and Total Film magazine.