Occasionally, it’s always good to get away from life. Packing up the car and driving out in a fit of wanderlust or journeying to a remote destination can do wonders from getting away from the stressors of civilization. From work pressures to family strife, an escape from these various dramas can be a tonic to one’s self-health. Within this isolation, there can be some darkness that can be carried within a person, a darkness that can manifest itself into strange situations that cannot be explained.
The Strings, a horror offering from Observer Effects Productions, gives us a road trip to a desolate cottage and all the strange happenings that occur in and around the cottage that terrifies the inhabitant in isolation.
Catherine (played by Toronto musician Teagan Johnston), living with the aftermath of breaking up with her boyfriend and her band, packs up her van and goes on a lengthy road trip to a desolate cottage that belongs to her aunt. The main purpose of her isolation consists of getting away from her dramas and to work on her music to become a solo artist. In addition to dealing with emails and phone calls from men who undermine and disrespect her at every turn, Anita (April Aliermo), a confidant who is only seen through a laptop screen, Catherine is, at first, truly alone as there is no one about despite the other cottages surrounding the area. When Catherine finds companionship and a potential love interest in Grace (Jenna Schafer), a local photographer who performs a photo shoot with Catherine at an abandoned farmhouse that contains a dark story of a couple that attempts to restore the farmhouse and ends in a murder/suicide. As Catherine tries to get her music and life back on track, a strange and mysterious male presence follows her with evil intentions.
Written by Krista Dzialoszynski and Ryan Glover, who also directs this film, crafts and helms a slow burn that creeps in on you with a wonderful and chilling atmosphere. Ryan Glover creates a weighty film loaded with dense darkness that emanates from the protagonist along with the cold, barren, unforgiving landscape that the director places his angst-filled, self-destructive artist in. The dark presence that haunts Catherine may have always been there within this bleak arena, but her vulnerability and heavy depression seems to compound and enhance this spectre of masculinity that attempts to haunt her being and destroy her potential happiness at each turn.
Teagan Johnston does an exceptional job in her film debut as Catherine as she eschews the typical chanteuse that prevail in many films with musicians. She oozes her own individual attractiveness and sexuality that makes this film unique. While you would think that she would vacate the cottage immediately upon witnessing the entity within the cottage, her character seems to embrace this ghost as a kindred spirit along with a mix of naivete that these strange occurrences will not put her in peril.
If you are not in the mood for a slow-moving movie, you may want to hold off until you are in a frame of mind to do so as the burn is very slow and patience is absolutely a virtue. If you can stay with it, the soundtrack by Teagan Johnston and Adrian Ellis is top notch and your endurance will be well rewarded as the payoff adds terror and sadness to the beautiful music which ends this creative vision.
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