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John’s Horror Corner: The Sonata (2018), a poor man’s The Ninth Gate (1999) favoring music composition over rare books.

May 8, 2022

MY CALL: An interesting premise with a well-told story. But where is the horror in this horror movie? There’s basically none. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Sonata: Another recent film finding horror in stringed instruments would be The Perfection (2018).

After the death of her long-estranged and transformatively famous music composer father (Rutger Hauer; Bleeders, The Hitcher), concert violinist Rose (Freya Tingley; Hemlock Grove) inherits all that was his, from his music to his sprawling 11th century French estate. With his passing comes the discovery of his most precious, and yet unfinished work: a sonata. But it is cryptically mystified with symbols.

In the spirit of The Ninth Gate (1999), these symbols are meant to open doors between worlds and much labor is required to decipher them. Rose’s agent Charles (Simon Abkarian; Casino Royale) works with her to crack the code and unveil the meaning of these symbols. However, it seems that how her father came to use these symbols is as disturbing as their meaning.

The journey had me ever curious, but never satisfied. There are basically no scares or gore or… this is more like “telling” me a horror story “on-screen” than actually showing me one. Too bad. It’s acted well, shot well, overall made very well.

This is the kind of horror that begins interesting, but ultimately offers way too little, way too late. The premise was intriguing, as were many of the plot points along the way, but it just never delivered at any point during this sluggish movie. Moreover, the “big ending” felt completely unearned. Too bad. I was hopeful. However, as far as the filmmaking is concerned, director and co-writer Andrew Desmond (Galaxy of Horrors segment “Entity”) did well for his first feature film. He just needed more horror in his horror movie.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 9, 2022 9:14 am

    The trailer looked creepy so I hate to read this one came up short. I understand what you mean about it telling a horror story instead of being one. I’ve seen others over the years that could have otherwise been good horror movies but instead it was more like sitting around a campfire listening to a story made up by a camp counselor. Thanks for the comparison to The Ninth Gate. That one wasn’t the best movie in the world but I will never forget Frank Langella’s moderately uncomfortable departure.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      May 9, 2022 7:21 pm

      You know, if they just added two super brief jump scares and one good several-minute effects-driven scene at the end, I’d call this movie solid. Everything else about it was done well… except the horror.

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