The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Nocturne (dir by Stephen Shimek)

Have you ever noticed how movies about teenagers always treat the rules of the “Never Have I Ever” game like they’re some sort of legally binding contract?

Seriously, I’ve seen this happen in so many movies.  Someone has a deep, dark secret that they don’t want to reveal.  They know that if they reveal the secret, a lot of bad stuff will happen as a result.  Feelings will be hurt.  Friendships will be crushed.  Lives will be lost.

But then the minute somebody says, “Never have I ever fucked my best friend’s boyfriend,” they always drink up.  Half the time, they’re the only person to take a drink.  And, during all of the drama that unfolds, it never occurs to anyone to say, “Why didn’t you just not take the drink!?  It’s just a game, after all!”

Something like this happens in the 2016 film, Nocturne.  Nocturne takes place at perhaps the saddest high school graduation party of all time.  All of the cool kids have gone to another party, which means that only seven people show up at this party.  From that humble beginning, things quickly go downhill as the graduates hang out in the hot tub, play the Never Have I Ever game, and listen to Gabe (Jake Stormeon) ramble about religion and philosophy and stuff.  Gabe also demonstrates some card tricks so yeah …. that’s definitely the way to end your high school career.

Anyway, bad parties always seem to lead to people trying to contact the dead and that’s what happens here.  Gabe sets up a makeshift séance and the graduates ask the dead a lot of questions that they probably shouldn’t have asked.  (Seriously, I’ve been to a few bad parties in my lifetime and you an always tell that the party is officially dead once people actually try to talk to the …. well, dead.)

Needless to say, this leads to someone getting possessed and just about everyone else dying.  The other party was probably a lot more fun.

So, on the plus side, Nocturne is fairly well-acted and some of the death scenes were clever.  The film’s chronology is a bit jumbled, which is one of those storytelling tricks that can be really annoying but which is justified here by the fact that demon exists beyond our conventional understanding of time and space.

On the negative side, a cat dies about halfway through the film and, as I discussed years ago in my review of Drag Me To Hell, it’s hard for me to endorse any film in which a cat is killed.  I mean, honestly, I would think most supernatural beings would appreciate the fact that a cat can sleep through just about anything.  Whereas a dog would be barking and throwing a fit over all the murders being committed, a cat would probably just relax in a corner and play with a toy mouse or something.  In this film, there was really no reason to kill the cat and it felt a bit gratuitous.  It was hard not to tell that the only reason the cat was put in the film was so it could be killed.  My point is, if you want to me to like your movie, don’t kill the cat.

Anyway, Nocturne is a rather uneven film.  If you can see past the dead cat, you might find this one interesting.  It has its creepy moments, even if it’s hard not to feel that the overall movie doesn’t really work.

Song of the Day: Nocturne, Op. 27 (Composer: Frédéric Chopin, Pianist: Arthur Rubinstein)

Yes, for my latest pick for song of the day I shall dial things back from all the J-pop, metal, hard rock and film scores. My pick for song of the day is Frédéric Chopin’s Nocturne, Op. 27 (No. 1 in C-sharp minor and No. 2in D-flat major).

A nocturne is a musical composition which takes it’s inspiration from the night itself or, at the very least, evocative of the night and darkness. It’s an easy enough description for a type of music which were typically arranged for piano solos. The nocturne was first originated by 18th-century classical composer, John Field but it would find it’s popularity at the hands of Polish composer Frédéric Chopin. Chopin wrote 21 nocturnes and it is Op. 27 (two solos) that I’ve chosen. This particular piece is widely considered by many as one of the greatest pieces of music Chopin ever wrote and I, for one, agree wholeheartedly.

This particular version is played by one of the greatest pianist of the 20th-century and one whose playing style goes hand-in-hand with Chopin’s free-flowing style. When one hears the name Arthur Rubinstein (he himself a fellow Polish musician just like Chopin) one automatically thinks of Chopin and, specifically, his 21 Nocturnes.

I am not one to adequately break down, deconstruct and examine just what makes Nocturne, Op. 27 such a great piece of music, but personally I’ve found it to be evocative of not just night, but one which brings with the night breeze a sense of mystery, the magical feel of the night and the accompanying darkness. For one such as myself whose personality and character make-up has been steeped in the darker nature of things this piece of music (calling it a song is so inadequate a term) definitely speaks to my inner self.