When Amazon Prime Video and Blumhouse reached out to me a few days ago about attending the Virtual Movie Premiere for their new horror film Nocturne (2020), I was a little hesitant to attend because as we all know I’m not a big fan of horror films and I cringe at the thought of writing a horror movie review.
The way I feel about horror films is pretty much the same way I feel about Marvel movies.
I’m not a big fan of them. Don’t all have a heart attack now. I disclaim this every time I write about a Marvel film. It’s not a big deal.
Yes I know I’m weird.
However, I do watch horror and Marvel films every now and then because they’re interesting to me! I’m just not like DYING to see them the way others are because they’re just not my cup of tea.
So anytime I get an email about a film in the horror genre I freak out. (I mean, have you read my US movie review, the title is literally “I Don’t Do Horror Movies, But I Still Took My Silly Ass To See Us And …“.)
If you’ve been reading Popcorn and Tequila for awhile then you KNOW for a fact that I’m a BIG scaredy cat! So while I wish I could watch Horror movies, the way my stomach and gag reflexes are set up, it’s best that I stick to the rivers and the lakes that I’m used too (and in this case the rivers and lakes are rom coms, teen flicks, comedies, sci-fi films, and so forth).
However, every now and then I gain some courage as I skip down my yellow brick road of life, and muster up the heart to plop my butt down in front of a screen to watch a horror film or series. Recently I’ve been watching Lovecraft Country on HBO Max, with no problem whatsoever! And that’s huge for someone like me who cringes and hates the sight of her own blood every month!
So yeah, when I got the invitation I was hesitant, but after reading the description (below), the music lover in me couldn’t say no.
Nocturne (2020) Movie Description: Inside the halls of an elite arts academy, a timid music student begins to outshine her more accomplished and outgoing twin sister when she discovers a mysterious notebook belonging to a recently deceased classmate.
I mean, I played Viola for 4 years! (I still kinda regret quitting in High School.)
I was also 1st chair for 3 of those years, simply because I learned my lesson when I went to HS and purposely sat in the back of the class to avoid the drama and competition that comes with being 1st chair.
So music, especially orchestral, string instrumentals, are dear to my heart. Anyone that knows me knows that I don’t know the words to my favorite songs, but I can hum / strum the instrumental parts because I tend to remember the music more than the words.
I say all this to say that, despite my lack of excitement for the horror genre in itself, due to having the scare tolerance of a child, I’m always excited when there’s a film in the genre that I can relate too. (Which explains why I’ve watched things like Us, and Lovecraft Country, and why I can’t wait to watch Bad Hair on Hulu, which I’ll be reviewing shortly.)
Plus, sometimes us scaredy cats need to know how scary a film REALLY is to determine if it’s worth giving a shot or if it’ll give us nightmares and we should just kindly pass so we can keep our sanity intact.
So yeah, I’m becoming the voice of the scaredy cats, and hopefully this review will help those like me who are hesitant about watching horror films make a decision on whether or not they should watch Nocturne.
(Note: If you’re looking for a short answer, yes. Watch it! If anything above resonated with you, then you won’t have a problem watching this film. But there are a few things I have issues with, so let me just get into the actual review and stop rambling about my life.)
Blumhouse’s Nocturne (2020) Review
First thing’s first I’m the realest … so let me be real, this ain’t no horror film.
Like, for someone like me who hates horror because they hate jumping, the sight of blood, and just being on edge at all times because you never know what’s about to happen next, this shit wasn’t scary at all!
It had a few moments of uncertainty, which were actually quite exciting as I waited to see what would happen next, but then when the other shoe dropped, I just wasn’t amused. More often than not, I was underwhelmed. This had the potential to be great, but some things were missing.
So if you saw the poster and thought “oh nah, I could never watch that shit” then relax … cause it’s not what you think! The poster itself is more creepy than the actual film, trust me. And I absolutely love the movie poster, but it doesn’t really reflect the film itself. It’s just a damn good poster. *sigh*
So yeah, this shit isn’t much of a horror film and I was worried for pretty much nothing. It’s that or my horror tolerance has increased tremendously, because I just wasn’t scared like I thought I would be. I mean like I had mentally prepared for this film! I gave myself a little “you watched 9 episodes of Lovecraft Country with no problem, this should be easy” pep talk and all that. But none of that was necessary because it wasn’t as intense as I expected.
Honestly, this could have been labeled a creepy teenage drama and I’d be more okay with that then it being labeled as a horror film, or thriller film for that matter. If you’re a TRUE horror geek, this isn’t gonna do it for ya. I’m almost certain it’ll piss you off.
But for me, who’s not into the gore and scare of horror, Nocturne was actually kind of exciting. It was like pealing back the sticky Monopoly game pieces on a large McDonald’s drink cup, hoping something good is behind it. (And then of course getting absolutely nothing of value and being disappointed right after.)
However, creepy teen drama would work because this sure did focus a lot on romantic relationships, instead of the symbols and drawings that should have fueled this film.
I mean, sis was kissing one too many men she had no business kissing, while her twin sister was apparently doing the same? And the oh so common, teacher student romantic relationship was also thrown into this thang for good measurement, ’cause I mean whats a teen flick without a little school scandal right?
And while I’m being honest, the concept of this is A1 but the plot falls a tad flat and had as many holes as the oh so coveted recorder.
And yes that’s a bit of music humor, and no I don’t care if you thought that joke was lame, deal with it! I’m lame, I’m quite aware of this, and I have no intentions of changing that! (If you laughed, you’re my people.)
So yeah … the concept of a musician being controlled by some sort of freak existence out in the universe to hone their talent and really push them over the edge to give them that “wow” factor so many musicians kill themselves over, was great.
As one of the teachers said in the film, “music is a blood sport”, meaning it’s do or die! Folks give up their entire lives to become great, so as someone who passed on the recording engineer life I oh so wanted a few years ago when faced with the decision of whether I should get a job that allowed me to be present in my daughter’s life (who was a baby at the time) OR snatch up a coveted internship at some big NYC music studio in order to rise to the top, the message really hit home for me.
But the execution of this horror concept was weak!
First of all, the entire film felt like one big music / creative student cliche. There are two twin sisters, both have almost the same talent, but one is destined for greatness (and Juliard), popular, has a boyfriend and the attention of their parents at the dinner table. While the other twin is basically a jealous nobody, lurking in the shadows waiting to steal her sister’s glory and willing to do almost anything to get it. Oh, and you already know about the romantic relationships previously mentioned above. (Or should I call them entanglements now, that term seems way more fitting for this movie.)
Yet, I would have been totally A okay with this cliche storyline had there not been so many damn plot holes. There’s nothing more frustrating than a movie that doesn’t flow well. And the plot for Nocturne was choppy AF!
It was like someone was tryna tell me a story about what happened to them yesterday, and in mid sentence they stopped that story and just jumped to a whole new story about tomorrow. Like WTF?! Can you finish your god damn sentence before moving on!!!
And I kid you not there was a scene where the editing felt like it literally jumped from day one to day two with no rhyme or reason and I was so confused! Like oh? Okay, so the day is done? We’re moving on now? Okay cool!
Like I needed this movie to dig deeper! I rarely ever want ‘more details’ and sometimes I frown upon books that feel like they have everlasting details to describe every inch of discovery. But Nocturne needed more details!
I didn’t hate Nocturne (2020) at all, so that’s not what this review is about.
I just wanted them to dig deeper! I needed to know where the symbols and drawings came from, what started them, why they were so important, how they controlled her, etc!
All we got was some yellow light, some mysterious late night / early morning concussions and amnesia drawings, and a whole lot of creepy teachers who felt like they knew more than they were letting on.
Nocturne felt less complete than a few of the films I recently saw during Film Festivals.
I kept waiting for an “ah haaa” moment, that would tie something back to the beginning, or to a teacher, or to any event that happened before the ending, and got nada!
And then the ending was a complete unrealistic mess, even for a film of this nature.
Like after all those disappointments, the ending could have at least tied this up well. But nope! The ending fell short too.
Y’all really want me to believe that no one saw a dead girl laying on the school property while everyone walked around campus, literally in the same area the body was?
And then for a split second I thought well maybe no one acknowledged her existence because she always felt invisible compared to her sister, and it was the directors/writers way of saying she did all this shit to be successful and yet even when she died no one so much as batted an eye because she was still nothing compared to her sister.
But still! Watching the screen pan out while folks walked around campus and not having at least ONE person notice a dead body was weird and way too unrealistic.
Plus when she fell, there were no screams, no muffles of pain, she just laid there smiling, with a mouth full of blood!
It was super weird.
Overall, I feel like if THIS one thing had happened during the movie I wouldn’t be so upset right now.
Now I know I kind of convinced myself that this thing would happen and so therefore it’s my fault for being so disappointed. But just like Project Power had a few things that could have turned that movie from good too great, Nocturne has one thing that I wanted to see happen that I think could have really tipped the scales. (Pun not intended.)
Throughout the entire movie I felt like they kept hinting at the fact that one of the teachers knew something about what was going on.
He was super creepy, popped up out of no where at times, and then kept mentioning the devil and satan and how that correlated with music and it was just weird!!
But as weird as it was, I honestly think if he had been connected to the symbols and drawings, or he had admitted to knowing what happened with the last student, things would have been extremely interesting.
I kept wondering if he purposely helped one of the twins succeed because he was connected to it all, and when he kept saying “you have something inside you” it felt like they were hinting at him knowing about the book.
But again, that storyline went absolutely no where (except to a birthday dinner, which again was weird AF because who randomly invites their music teacher to a birthday dinner with their parents) so yeah.
Okay I’m done complaining now!
But as a music person, and Viola player, I really wanted to LOVE this! I wanted Nocturne to be GREAT! Sadly, it was just good. However, I guess that makes this a great film for those who once again don’t like horror because they’re easily scared and jump at their own shadow. If you’re one of those people, then this is going to be an easy film to watch during this Halloween season.