‘Nocturne’ Isn’t Perfect, but it Takes Admirable Risks (Review)
Written by: Matt Molgaard
Directed by: Stephen Shimek
Cast: Clare Niederpruem, Hailey Nebeker, Melanie Stone, Darien Willardson
Nocturne starts on an extremely familiar note, and by the time viewers have made it through the first act, the audience feels prepared to brand this one a lazy, utterly uninspired slasher flick with a series of unlikeable youngsters doomed to meet the sharp end of a blade. And then, about halfway through the film director Stephen Shimek and co-writers Katy Baldwin and Kristi Shimek hit us flush in the chin with a punch we never see coming.
Nocturne is no run of the mill slasher. What it is, is an amalgamation of different ideas, with psychological terror and paranormal activity leading the fearsome charge. And, I’ve got to say, while unexpected, the twist really works quite well, immediately hauling this one from the depths of mediocrity.
I don’t want to spill too much info in direct regard to the script. Some films are best seen and not read of, and this is most certainly one of those features. What I will say is that a small group of friends get together for a little drinking, a hint of debauchery and some dabbling with the feared Ouija board. There are a few douche bags in this clan, and their malicious decisions, coupled with the toying of the Ouija board send the evening spiraling in a terrifying direction. It isn’t long before we realize that someone, or something in this mix isn’t precisely what they seem.
Nocturne is an indie film, and its fiscal limitations are easily detectable. The good news is, a cramped budget doesn’t damage the film, as it’s a very contained story with very few locations and just a handful of characters. Keeping things so tightly knit no doubt empowered Shimek. He’s able to work mild effects to solid success and he doesn’t have to concern himself with a scope that betrays the budget. The story happens in a house to a half dozen characters, and that’s manageable for a film that teeters between micro and shoestring. In short, Nocturne didn’t require an astronomical budget to impress. All this one needed was a little dedication and some creativity, both of which are on constant display.
Although the film’s performers are all relatively green, they show some passion, some dedication and some heart. They go all in, and that’s appreciated. Don’t anticipate flawless performances, instead keep an eye out for a few figures who could one day find themselves involved in much larger studio productions. Interestingly enough, literally any single one of these performers could excel in this business, as no one performer truly outshines another. It’s a strong little ensemble, even if you’ve never seen a single one of these young thespians perform.
I enjoyed the story. I enjoyed the performances, and I got a kick out of the characters themselves, as they’re not too exaggerated to get behind. And while I place value on these aspects of the picture, it’s the daring maneuvers that Shimek employs that really, really won me over. The finale comes completely out of left field, and that risk also pays big dividends.
Don’t tune into Nocturne expecting some aesthetically brilliant film with stunning cinematography and career defining performances. Rather, approach this film with an open mind, expecting a low budget indie that has a pair it isn’t afraid to show off. The cast and crew take measured risks time and again, and those risks pay off pretty well. Again, Nocturne isn’t a film without flaw, but it is an entertaining horror flick that dares to be great in key sequences.
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