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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Sep 22, 2021



“NOCTURNE” is a music-centered horror film from Blumhouse TV that lovers of classical piano pieces will enjoy. The film starts showing a girl playing the violin beautifully. 

Then the clock strikes and she gets up and without any warning, jumps from a balcony into her death below.

We are then introduced to Juliet and Vivian Lowe (Sydney Sweeney and Madison Iseman), who are both classical pianists. 

They are non identical twin sisters who are in their final year in an elite school for the performing arts called Lindberg Academy. 

Between the two, Vivian is considered as the more proficient prodigy since she has already been accepted in the prestigious Julliard School in New York.

The student who died in the opening scene is Moira and she’s supposed to perform in their school’s showcase concert for seniors. 

Their school announces that auditions will be conducted to find out who will replace her.  Both Julia and Vivian express the desire to take the audition.

Juliet, who has always been under Vivian’s shadow, decides to play the same audition piece chosen by her twin sister, a piano concerto. 

But while rehearsing it, she hears music coming from the room of the virtuoso student who committed suicide, Moira. 

She gets in, the music stops, no one is there, but she finds the notebook left by Moira. It is full of puzzling images and creepy drawings that fascinate her so she keeps it. 

She then chooses to play for the audition a music piece she saw in Moira’s notebook. 

Their teacher says the piece is entitled “The Devil’s Trill” by Tartini. While playing it during the audition, she goes into a trance and sees a vision of herself getting flowers. 

It turns out she fainted during the audition and she felt so disappointed when she learns that it is Vivian who wins in the audition.

Her relationship with her sister becomes strained and she later chooses her sister’s coach, Dr. Henry Cask (Ivan Shaw), to be her own mentor. 

Dr. Cask tells her she will always be a mere second fiddle to Vivian as she lacks her sister’s passion for music.

In a party for senior students, Juliet blatantly flirts with Vivian’s boyfriend, Max (Jacques Colimanon.) 

Vivian sees her and they have a fight. Juliet runs away and Vivian follows her and an accident happens. Vivian falls off a ravine and break her arm. The injury will surely ruin her career as a pianist.

Things become very toxic not only for the sisters but also the people around them, including Dr. Cask who, it turns out, is having an affair with Vivian. 

It’s obvious that all this will only end in tragedy after the underachieving Juliet has practically sold her soul to the devil in exchange of success as a pianist.

The movie will remind you about other films involving music students, like “Whiplash” and “The Piano Teacher”. 

All the exacting training can take its toll on one’s body and soul. But in its dark theme, “Nocturne” is more akin to “Black Swan” where Natalie Portman descends into hell as a ballet dancer. 

Written and directed by Zu Quirke, the film is her directorial debut. It belongs to the psycho-thriller genre but Quirke does not succeed in making all its elements fit into a cohesive and rewarding whole. 

The film’s main driving force is actually Moira's notebook, so the film’s title should have been that, but then there’s already a “The Notebook” hit love story so they cannot use it and they opt for the very lame title of “Nocturne”.

Sweeney as the virginal Juliet undone by her own  psychotic ambitions gives an effective portrayal of the mediocre talent who resorts to the notebook’s evil biddings while engaged in a toxic sibling rivalry with her more gifted sister. 

But unfortunately, as a horror movie, “Nocturne” is not at all scary. 

The script with its supernatural Faustian element is not at all well written and Juliet’s deterioration as a flawed human being consumed by envy is just so predictable. 

We cannot sympathize with any of the characters and we have no reason at all to cheer Juliet on in what she is doing as we know she’ll only bring disaster upon her own self.