It is rare that a film is hurt by picking the wrong genre to play in but what Nocturne finds out the hard way is that there is a big difference between psychological horror and supernatural horror.
As a psychological horror, Nocturne is a very solid mind bomb that draws quality comparisons to 2010s Black Swan. The problem is, this is not a psy-horror, it is a supernatural horror film. As a supernatural horror, this film misses the mark like a Jets quarterback misses the endzone.
The film begins with “twin sisters” Juliet (Sydney Sweeney) and Vivian Lowe (Madison Iseman) who are theater kids at Lindberg Academy, a prestigious school for the performing arts. Both sisters are classical pianists but Vivian has a much bigger upside than her sister. The jealousy of not being accepted into Juilliard while standing in the shadow of her sister pushed Juliet to dangerous means. Juliet finds the diary of a recently deceased girl and comes to the realization that the book can tell the future, however her future is looking eerily similar to the one of the girl who just perished.
Structurally Nocturne is a competent film. Storywise, the story of a sister obsessed with fame who slowly destroys the lives of everyone around her is good enough to be entertaining for a runtime of 90 minutes. Lead actress Sydney Sweeney is easy enough on the eyes while she channels her best Natalie Portman impersonation. The film is well shot and accurately portrays the world of theater kids in the high stress environment of “making it”. So what is the problem?
The premise is not original and the supernatural elements of the story simply do not work. The film tries to avoid Black Swan comparisons by injecting the angle of a “demon book” that turns the user crazy with envy and pride until the person is led to their doom. However, the film spends much of this film forgetting about it’s own storyline until we need to come back to it in the shocking ending which falls flat in delivery.
If you are a horror fan, there is nothing to feed on here because somehow the writer thought a scary book would be scarier than a white girl whose sole object of concern is herself. Nocturne is a mostly solid film but if it understood the basics of the genre they were aiming for, it would have been so much better.