On paper, this movie reads like the perfect recipe for a haunted house drama. We follow musician, Catherine (Teagan Johnston), who is looking to tap into musical musings as she delves into a creative spell to produce her latest album. In order to do so, she retreats to a secluded cottage in the middle of nowhere. While there the audience is promised that Catherine is going to be attacked by a mysterious dark presence. What we are presented with however are long drawn out sequences where Catherine tinkers with the ivories.
Some have argued that part of the film’s beauty is through the cinematography and the slow burn descent of Catherine’s journey into her creativity and the threat that isolation has on her soul. Equally though, one could debate that this journey ironically renders the journey, soulless.
It’s perhaps no surprise that the film is presented in such a way when you look at the type of artist that Teagan Johnston is. Johnston’s music is typically filled with a raw energy that is deliberately haunting in places, and this stripped down approach is evident also throughout the film which is essentially a showpiece for Johnston’s work and an insight into her creativity.
The problem is that this kind of film, with its high art concepts, struggles under the weight of its premise and there’s a difference between a slow burn and the smouldering ashes of a near dormant fire. It simply doesn’t connect with its audience and pushes them away rather than draws you in.
Possibly one for followers of Teagan Johnston’s music and creative expression.
For me though, it’s a massive misfire and one of the hardest movies that I’ve sat through this year.
Too slow and with nothing really to say other than to wallow in melancholy.
- Saul Muerte
The Strings is currently screening on Shudder.