• Nate Adams

Review: 'Nocturne' never finds the correct melody


Courtesy of Prime Video

Zu Quirke’s “Nocturne” – the final film in this batch of “Welcome to the Blumhouse” releases – tries to blend the atmosphere of “Black Swan” with the ambiguity of “Suspiria” for a middling, unbalanced, presentation. Of the four movies in the “Blumhouse” anthology, “Nocturne” is the first one that genuinely feels like a horror flick. But that’s not saying much when all the other entries were mediocre at best, with this one suffering from a bout of flat performances, a predictable script, and Quirke trying to justify the films 90-minute running time.

At least Quirke has an eye for the visuals, as the opening scene is quite impactful, suggesting a better film is waiting on the horizon: the sequence of a young musician – who is practicing in their room – putting down an instrument and jumping off the dorm ledge is striking. We don’t understand what compelled the student to take her life, although odd symbols painted throughout the room might hint at foul play. Not long after, at the same school, Juliet (Sydney Sweeney – always a welcome addition) finds the dead girl’s notebook of strange drawings and is baffled when they start to mimic her life. Juliet begins taking uncalculated risks, in regards to her music career, that were never on the table and sees these new prophetic tellings as a means to get out of the shadow of her more talented twin sister, Vivian (Madison Iseman). 

Aside from the occasional and inspired work of imagery that Quirke manages to pepper throughout “Nocturne,” Juliet, as the protagonist, is a complete and total bore of a character. Not only does it fail to give Sweeney, who is one of the more versatile rising actresses working today, something to sink her teeth into, there are painfully long stretches where these strange supernatural entities are supposed to be guiding her decisions, and none of it is particularly interesting. Most of that lies in the direction, but the simple truth is “Nocturne” can’t make the justification for its premise and never finds the correct melody to land on. 

Grade: C-

NOCTURNE is now streaming on Prime Video as part of the “Welcome to the Blumhouse” series