Amazon Prime Video’s WELCOME TO THE BLUMHOUSE series has already put a strong foot forward with its first two titles, The Lie and Black Box. The entire four-film experience has been dabbling in some of the more innovative and exciting corners of the horror genre. Each film has delivered something a little unexpected.
The series is going out on a high note, with the second half of the WELCOME TO THE BLUMHOUSE lineup! NOCTURNE and EVIL EYE are equally strong, tragic, and haunting. If you’re searching for exciting new horror, this October, NOCTURNE and EVIL EYE should be at the top of your to-watch lists.
NOCTURNE stars Sydney Sweeney (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) and Madison Iseman (Jumanji: The Next Level) and is the feature debut of writer and director Zu Quirke. And it’s a hell of a debut!
Juliet is a shy, but dedicated pianist at an elite arts academy. Though she has given her life for the art, Juliet can never quite surpass the natural talent of her twin sister Vivian. Following the passing of a star student, Juliet stumbles upon the girl’s notebook. Inside are strange illustrations and haunting pieces of music. As Juliet begins to work through the notebook, she begins to improve and her rivalry with her sister intensifies. Perfection and fame have a cost. Can Juliet afford it?
NOCTURNE is, easily, my favorite of the four WELCOME TO THE BLUMHOUSE titles. NOCTURNE is the accessible love child of films like Black Swan, Hereditary, and The Perfection. It juxtaposes the stark rigidity of these high-pressure fine arts schools with the wanton macabre of the occult. It’s a perfect blend and is executed to haunting and gorgeous effect: from the writing, to the striking visuals, to the performances.
Wrapped within NOCTURNE’s stylist package is an incredibly thoughtful meditation on the pressure that young people face. Hell, just the pressure of seeking perfection. Juliet gives and gives of herself, and is met with nothing beyond demands for more. The pursuit of artistic perfection is feeding a monster with unending hunger. As an exercise in exploring mental health and the burden of expectation, NOCTURNE is as good as it gets.
NOCTURNE is a decadent feast for the viewer. Every element is a delicately assembled symphony and every movement of the film’s narrative an intricate dance. An incredibly tense film that keeps you locked in and enchanted, with jarring horror that leaves you with an aftertaste of emptiness and dread. Well done.
Pallavi (played by GLOW’s Sunita Mani) is in her late 20s, unmarried, and feeling the pressure from her supportive but traditional mother, Usha (Sarita Choudhury). Usha is anxious for her daughter to finally marry, but gets more than she bargained for when Pallavi falls for the handsome and wealthy Sandeep. Suddenly, her independent daughter is becoming more and more dependent on this man and something just doesn’t seem right. Usha becomes convinced that her daughter’s new boyfriend is connected to a dark and toxic force from her past.
EVIL EYE is based off the award-winning Audible story from writer Madhuri Shekar. The film is directed by Elan Dassani and Rajeev Dassani and stars Sarita Choudhury (Mississippi Masala), Omar Maskati, Bernard White, and Sunita Mani.
Of all the WELCOME TO THE BLUMHOUSE titles, EVIL EYE is perhaps the most beautiful and fully realized concept. The aesthetics of the film are incredibly striking, from the vibrant and traditional home of Usha to Pallavi’s distant and modern home in New Orleans. The setting of EVIL EYE alone speaks so loudly. Both Delhi and New Orleans are spaces that are closely linked to superstition and the supernatural. These cities represent the space between generations and how the confines of Usha’s tradition are so separate from Pallavi’s life, as a modern woman. At the same time, connecting these two women within these two spaces speaks to the connection shared by all women past and present. The connection shared through generations of mothers looking out for daughters and women learning from other women how to guard against violence committed by men.
Usha and Pavalli are wonderful characters, brilliantly written and just as brilliantly performed. Mani and Choudhury are delivering some of the best dramatic performances of the year, within EVIL EYE. The “generational curse” and poignant discussion at play in EVIL EYE are only possible because these two actresses carry such multitudes.
If there was ever a moment to use the incredibly tired and frustrating term “elevated horror,” it would be to describe EVIL EYE. A beautiful film with a great deal of power and emotion behind its horror. It holds you in its gaze and doesn’t let go!
NOCTURNE and EVIL EYE will be available on Amazon Prime Video on October 13, 2020.
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