The Longest Night has a rock-solid premise and a lightning-quick pace, making it one of the weekend’s standout binge-watch propositions.
This review of The Longest Night Season 1 is spoiler-free.
The Longest Night might very well be the standout binge-watch proposition of this streaming weekend. Combining a range of obvious influences – Assault on Precinct 13 being the biggest – with several fan-favorite genres, this pacey six-part Spanish series delivers a high-octane viewing experience in a digestible package. With the breathing space afforded by not having Stranger Things breathing down its neck, there’s every chance for something like this, which Netflix has scarcely marketed at all, to find an enthusiastic following.
On paper, it’s a doozy. The plot is centered within Baruca Psychiatric Correctional Facility, a part-prison-part-hospital relic where a notorious serial killer named Simon Lago, aka the Alligator, has been temporarily housed for the evening. It’s Christmas Eve, and the prison’s warden, Hugo, arrives on short notice with two of his three children to babysit the new prisoner.
But Simon is wanted by a heavily-armed and well-equipped group led by a man named Ruso, who turns up outside the prison and offers Hugo a deal – if he hands over Simon, they’ll leave. If he doesn’t, they’ll take him by force. It seems like an easy decision, but it’s complicated by the fact that Hugo’s eldest daughter, Laura, has been kidnapped by some of Simon’s associates. If Hugo hands Simon over, Laura will die.
This is obviously a dynamite premise, and it’s made more interesting by the involvement of various inmates with competing interests and differing degrees of psychological stability. The show also endeavors to make the prison itself a character in its own right, with the notorious Red Block stuffed with the most violent prisoners, and seemingly miles of underground maintenance tunnels connecting the various portions. When Ruso’s men cut off the power, navigating the labyrinth in the dark flirts with horror as much as anything else.
That facility with crowd-pleasing genres – action, crime, prison, horror – is what gives The Longest Night its curb appeal, but it’s staged with such momentum-building in mind that once it has you it never really lets up. The cast clearly believes in the material, too. Alberto Ammann is playing relatively straight as Hugo, but Luis Callejo’s Simon and several of the other inmates provide a welcome degree of dark eccentricity that creates danger and tension everywhere. There’s a lot to like here, then – just don’t blink.