26th Aug2019

Frightfest 2019: ‘The Sonata’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Freya Tingley, Simon Abkarian, James Faulkner, Rutger Hauer, Catherine Schaub-Abkarian, Matt Barber, Christopher Brand, James Kermack, Myster Jo, Laine Ligere Stengrévica | Written by Andrew Desmond, Arthur Morin | Directed by Andrew Desmond


While horror movies and classical music aren’t complete strangers, it’s not like they know each other very well. Films like The Shining, Candyman and The Exorcist have used this style of music in their movies but not many have their storylines centered around classical music. This is exactly what The Sonata does.

After her father’s passing a young violinist discovers that her parent was involved in much more darker occurrences than the music he wrote. Finding his last ever piece of music, she is lead into a world she never knew existed.

It felt that, for a long time, The Sonata was building and building to a big final scene where all the horror and the jump scares would explode on to the screen at once but it never quite gets to that excitement. Maybe I’m being a little harsh because the final scene is the best one in the whole movie. We get some creepy and cool-looking child ghosts, a CGI-heavy but still kind of scary sort-of demon and some really excellently paced original music. But this all lasts less than five minutes and doesn’t really live up to all that build-up.

The hour and twenty minutes before it lack any excitement. It’s just not interesting enough and from someone that doesn’t actually mind loud noise jump scares, I was begging for a few of these throughout.

The film-makers do deserve some credit for the story. On paper it comes across interesting and completely original. I assume that if you can read music (I can’t) and are a big fan of classical music (I have some interest), then you would probably enjoy The Sonata more, some scenes in particular really focus on the written piece. You don’t need to understand it to understand what is going on, things never confused me but maybe I could have got more from it.

There’s also a definite gothic-feel to The Sonata, mainly due to the grand old buildings that are used as the central locations and this vibe would have been a good one to stick with but it doesn’t do a lot else with the gothic-horror style.

Freya Tingley plays Rose, the lead character. Best known for her roles in Once Upon Time and Hemlock Grove, she fits the bill well and she’s perfect for the character putting in a decent performance. Unfortunately Rose, like much of the movie, isn’t very engaging. Simon Abkarian (Casino Royale) plays Charles, another main role and once again, his performance is good but he doesn’t get a whole lot to work with, even when his character becomes more involved. Perhaps The Sonata will be best known cast-wise as one of the last performances of Rutger Hauer, who has a small role.

The obvious comparison to The Sonata is recent Netflix Original The Perfection. But other than classical music being at the forefront, there’s not a whole lot in common. The Sonata doesn’t go to the horrific depths of the Netflix film and instead decides to play things safe, leaving the viewer wanting so much more.

** 2/5

The Sonata screened on Sunday August 25th 2019 as part of this years Arrow Video Frightfest.


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