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‘The Strings’ review: Intimate horror film is chilling

Quiet and flirty.

The Strings gets off to a start that is effective and confusing at the same time. A man stands silently on a beach filled with tree trunks that seemed to have been set up in a purposeful manner. As the music continues to get louder, the man walks out into the ocean. It is all very atmospheric, but how does it fit in with the story of a young musician looking to write new material? Catherine (Teagan Johnston) has traveled out to a remote cabin after breaking up her band. As she begins her new career path, she strikes up a new romance while mysterious occurrences have her questioning her grasp on reality.

The Strings is a horror movie with a strong focus on its main character. The intimate film is intentionally cold (and unintentionally distant) as it examines the life of a woman working her way through her newly acquired emotional baggage. Director and co-writer Ryan Glover takes risks in the use of long takes and subtle scares. The Strings is not a traditional scary movie that tries to frighten with loud bangs and jump scares. More often than not, the fear is based on literal chills and stark loneliness.

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Credit should also go to co-writer Krista Dzialoszynski who was unafraid to craft a story around a protagonist that has little to say, but has a lot on her mind. The decision to have Catherine’s music take front and center does not always work, but when it does, it feels like audiences have become closer to the main character. This dichotomy of needing to be alone while also longing for companionship is a constant in The Strings.

Ultimately, the story will reward patient horror fans. While it does not have the upfront terror that mainstream audience associate with the genre, the mood and setting are perfect for the story being told. Some of the set ups are a little too obvious, but the majority of them – even the more predictable ones – are effective. The Strings is a refreshing change of pace that does not reinvent the wheel but still provides something slightly different.

The Strings comes to Shudder November 23

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