Welcome to the Blumhouse
Amazon and Blumhouse partnered together to launch a film series entitled “Welcome to the Blumhouse.” This collection of 90-minute teleplays will spook you, tempt you and frighten you. The first two films, “The Lie” and “Black Box,” offered some unique surprises with powerful characters.
The theme for these two new films, “Nocturne” and “Evil Eye,” is revenge and redemption. As with “The Lie” and “Black Box,” they feature striking visuals and well-composed shots. The comparison between the quad of films is an ode to the technical work as much as it also speaks volumes about “Nocturne,” a story about a gifted pianist who hasn’t yet seen her full potential. “Nocturne” is followed up by the supernatural thriller, “Evil Eye,” perhaps the strongest film out of the quad. “Evil Eye” is a mother-daughter story of the most personal kind reflecting the misgivings we have with each other.
If you have a freshly popped bag of popcorn, grab that Fanta, or your favorite Pinot, maybe a cabernet, settle into your favorite chair, and take in all the thrills, chills, and suspense. “Welcome to Blumhouse.”
Written and Directed by: Zu Quirke
Starring: Sydney Sweeney, Madison Iseman, Jacques Colimon, Ivan Shaw
If you allow me an indulgence, I can type like a madman, don’t ask me to count how many words per minute. The computer is more responsive, more forgiving than the typewriter I learned to type on in high school many moons ago. One stroke of a key, and I can delete an entire line. The computer has given us a flexibility that typewriters, even electric, could not compete with.
Although ludicrous, the comparison between a computer and a typewriter and my efficiency thereof is relevant to Zu Quirke’s “Nocturne.”
“Whiplash” came to mind too.
The reason why I bring up the efficiency of my typing skills concerning “Nocturne” is to discuss the competitive nature between twin sisters, Juliet (Sydney Sweeney) and Vivian (Madison Iseman). The two sisters are prodigious students at an art high school for the gifted and talented.
Vivian is the typical All-American Girl – the perfect smile, the perfect form, the perfect boyfriend, Max (Jacques Colimon). She is set to enter Julliard in the fall as a piano student. She has it all. Her sister, Juliet, however, has been overshadowed by Vivian, playing ‘second key’ to her aspiring sibling.
Much like the typewriter/computer comparison, Juliet is offered an opportunity to realize her potential, despite the obstacles placed in front of her. Quirke’s screenplay uses the nocturnal elements to carry Juliet’s story forward.
Quirke’s direction is solid, and the aforementioned contrast to “Whiplash” is appropriate. Juliet’s determination is overshadowed by her own desires to be more than she is; she becomes an unwilling participant in her own downfall, though, like a narcotic, she becomes a better pianist through the aid of technology; she gets to experience the things she had previously given up. As Vivian embarks on her journey, the tempo really resides within the distinction between keys on the piano – the flat, sharp half-step of the black keys between the musical tones of the white keys.
The theme of revenge lies within those keys though it is, thankfully, not what you’d expect. Although the film’s pace is a bit slower than “The Lie” and “Black Box,” “Nocturne” feels more natural in terms of storytelling; the characters and their situations are less mystical and ultimately more believable.
“Nocturne” is Recommended and is now streaming on Amazon Prime.
Directed by: Elan and Rajeev Dasani
Written by: Madhuri Shekar, based on the Audiobook ‘Evil Eye,’ by Madhuri Shekar
Starring: Sarita Choudhury, Sunita Mani, Omar Maskati, Bernard White
The relationship between a mother and daughter is something very unique, something compelling. Through thick and thin, that connection withstands the test of time and culture.
“Evil Eye,” the latest film from Amazon and Blumhouse Television, uses that powerful connection to explore mythological impacts and barriers to the mother-daughter relationship.
Pallavi Kharti (Sunita Mani) is blissfully living on her own in America. She has a job, an apartment, and is capable of being on her own. Her parents, Usha (Sarita Choudhury) and Krishnan (Bernard White), live in Delhi. Despite the wide physical gulf between mother and daughter, technology keeps them together.
Pallavi’s problem is that she’s nearly 30 and is unmarried, which normally does not happen in Indian culture. However, Pallavi is also very Americanized. For Usha, some of the traditions don’t sit well for her, much to her chagrin.
Unabated, Usha pushes for marriage for her daughter. Pallavi and Sandeep’s chance encounter puts Pallavi’s present and Usha’s past on a collision course.
Madhuri Shekar’s script uses the mythology of family lineage and cultural traditions to tell a well-crafted story. The characters and their situations feel fluid and real, thanks to Elan and Rajeev Dasani’s tight direction. This story gets its revelation right; the tension is palpable, and even though the clues point to an inevitable conclusion, the characters are tempered in just the right direction that it gives away the ending.
The most endearing parts of the film involve Usha, as Choudhury’s facial expressions and body language carry the characters’ feelings. “Evil Eye” is an exceptionally tactile film. Yaron Levy’s cinematography captures the visceral feeling, enhancing the characters and their performances to the benefit of the story.
There’s a scene in the middle of the film where the co-directors decide to split-screen a conversation between mother and daughter. Even though the scene’s basis is fueled by technology, and it offers a pivotal piece of information, the technology melts away. This moment, the physical gulf between mother and daughter is closed; their instincts and personalities come together, not to form one character, but truly discover one another.
Now streaming on Amazon Prime, “Evil Eye,” is a horror film as it is a strong dramatic thriller. Its performances and technical work make it Highly Recommended.