Welcome to the Blumhouse: Nocturne Image

The classical music element is so well portrayed that the viewer feels like an insider in this cutthroat world, where talent fights for the shining spots, which are less and less available. It is reminiscent of the competitive jazz world that Blumhouse presented in the Oscar-winning Whiplash: total viewer immersion into a subject that very few go in caring about. Also, Zu Quirke’s screenplay achieves the benchmark of creating a dramatic story that could stand on its own without the horror elements. Too often, horror movies allow the dread factor to be the driver of the storyline, so films that have effective arcs like the twin sister rivalry in this one make the horror all the more potent.

But then, about 25 minutes into the film, the drugs kick in. You realize that Nocturne has been secretly taking three little pills, over and over again. Everything suddenly goes nuts, nuts in the Italian style of horror, where light and sounds intensify with glowing primary colors blinding your eyes and deafening your ears. This keeps happening at odd times, taking things far beyond the perimeter of most regular movies and into realms only recently traveled in hallucinogenic horrors like Color Out of Space and Mandy.

“…achieves the benchmark of creating a dramatic story that could stand on its own without the horror elements.”

The real strength of Quirke’s directing with these elements is how she carefully rations these visual bursts into the story, just like how the music rises are sparingly placed. This working of the more intense waves into crescendos adds a lot of power to this motion picture, what Quentin Crisp called the crucial variety of tone. The occult part of the storyline is also very well handled by being kept as mysterious and undefined as possible. This adds a further element of fear that wouldn’t be there if the dark force had been overly defined, similar to how Michele Soavi treated the subject matter in The Sect, with elegance and a bitter aftertaste of the void.

The Blumhouse Television machine continues to live up to its reputation as the carrier of the Roger Corman torch by allowing master filmmakers like Zu Quirke the chance to show what they can do in the small budget arena, where the stakes are low enough to allow creative freedom to make something amazing. It also helps cement Amazon Prime as the leading streamer that caters to the psychotronic audience on this planet, as they carry the strangest pictures on the most regular basis. Zu Quirke is a bright star, much like the bright star that keeps appearing throughout Nocturne, though once you see the movie, you will realize just how chilling that statement is.

Nocturne (2020)

Directed and Written: Zu Quirke

Starring: Sydney Sweeney, Madison Iseman, Jacques Colimon, Ivan Shaw, Julie Benz, etc.

Movie score: 9/10

Nocturne Image

"…light and sounds intensify with glowing primary colors blinding your eyes and deafening your ears."

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