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Monday, October 12

Nocturne (2020)


Nocturne is part of the Welcome to Blumhouse series of films from Blumhouse Studios, which features 8 films that will debut on Amazon streaming. The first four air this October, the rest in 2021. 


A pair of twin girls named Juliet and Vivian (Sydney Sweeney and Madison Iseman) are enrolled in a prestigious arts school. Vivian is outgoing and popular, while Juliet more reserved and withdrawn. Both are gifted at playing the piano, but Vivian has always been the more successful – and favorite of their parents. When they arrive at the school, they learn that the soloist in the school concerto – a girl named Moria (Ji Eun Hwang) – died a week prior, having committed suicide, and there will be an open competition to decide the new lead. Vivian is the assumed forerunner. One day Juliet stumbles upon a notebook that previously belonged to Moira, her theory book, containing strange drawings, musical notations and messages written backwards. She finds herself drawn to it, and into a world of the supernatural, using it to channel her own talents and try to win the lead in the concerto… 


Nocturne was written and directed by Zu Quirke, who is seriously channeling Suspiria with this tale of a musical academy with a supernatural secret lurking beneath its facade. However, unlike the 1977 Argento film (and its 2018 remake) this one doesn’t lean into the horror element fully, rather swerving at the last second to a more pedestrian ending that, while still good, falls short of the potential it was building toward. The acting is good across the board and Sydney Sweeney really shines in the role of the tormented Juliet. 

Nocturne is a stylish and well-made tale of jealousy, ambition and sibling rivalry. I just wish it had embraced the horror fully. Just before she goes onstage to perform Juliet’s principal tell her to, “Give them hell.” Unfortunately, it didn’t quite go there.

Available on Amazon starting October 13, 2020.

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