Welcome to the Blumhouse review: Nocturne and Evil Eye double feature

Madison Iseman as Vi and Sydney Sweeney as Juliet in NOCTURNE. Image Courtesy Blumhouse Television and Amazon Studios
Madison Iseman as Vi and Sydney Sweeney as Juliet in NOCTURNE. Image Courtesy Blumhouse Television and Amazon Studios /

Nocturne and Evil Eye, the last two films from the Welcome to the Blumhouse collection, are more soapy than scary — despite the onscreen talent.

Horror has always been a genre that breeds innovation and leaves the door open for new players to try and shake things up. And when it comes to innovation in horror, no production company has a stronger repertoire than Blumhouse, which has churned out hit after hit and raked in box office profits in previous years.

However, with COVID-19 drastically shifting how audiences consume film, Blumhouse is experimenting with a new project alongside Amazon Prime Video: the Welcome to the Blumhouse collection, which houses four films under one metaphorical roof. The first two films in the collection, The Lie and Black Box, were released last week, and the last two, Nocturne and Evil Eye were released this week. Although both films have intriguing premises and strong casting, neither one is truly compelling, or even scary.


Starring Sydney Sweeney (Euphoria) and Madison Iseman (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), Nocturne follows a prodigal piano player named Juliet (Sweeney) who discovers a mysterious and sinister power in a notebook from a dead classmate and uses its unsettling contents to try and outshine her twin sister Vivian (Iseman), who has the scholarship and academic success Juliet so deeply desires. Nocturne is by no means an ambitious film – with a tiny cast, a small-scale premise, and a runtime of an hour and a half, it’s not trying to be much more than it is, which is a chilling portrait about jealousy between siblings.

Unfortunately for the film, though, Nocturne suffers from a weak, predictable script, and an utter lack of scariness, so neither the emotionality nor the fear factor of the film delivers, resulting in a half-baked movie that feels like a thriller at best, and a shoddy episode of Black Mirror at worst. We want to say that the cast of Nocturne (particularly Sweeney’s lead performance) redeems the script’s flaws, but in reality, it only makes them all the more glaring. Sweeney is incredibly compelling when it comes to moments of pure emotion, but the dialogue-heavy scenes, which are most of the film’s runtime, is where she struggles.

The script is nothing special, and Sweeney unfortunately isn’t able to elevate the predictable and unimaginative dialogue. Iseman is similarly ‘meh’, and her character’s insistence on using the phrase “wombie” to describe her and her sister’s relationship made us think of Gretchen Weiners trying to get “fetch” to catch on. Stop trying to make “wombie” happen. It’s not going to happen. Ivan Shaw, who plays the twins’ music teacher, gives the film’s most formidable performance, but his role is more tertiary, and certainly not enough to redeem the script as a whole.

The other major issue with Nocturne is that it’s just not scary – there’s no other way around it. Yes, the score is weird and unsettling, but that’s the only part of the film that we found even remoetly spine-chilling. Nocturne relies on its more mystical scenes to bring the scares – centering around a Necronomicon-esque notebook that prophesizes Jules’ success and her peers’ downfall. However, the mysticism is too vague and campy to be scary, despite the film’s trippy and violent ending.

The film’s short runtime is a redeeming quality – any longer and it would feel like a waste of time – so as is, Nocturne is a “just ok” thriller with a choppy lead performance and a severe lack of personality. It’s certainly not offensive, but it’s also not a film we’ll remember even a week from now.

Evil Eye

The last film in the Blumhouse collection is Evil Eye, another thriller adapted from an audio play oft the same name. The film follows an Indian mother named Usha (Sarita Choudhury) who grows concerned when she believes her daughter Pallavi’s (Sunita Mani) new boyfriend Sandeep (Omar Maskati) is the reincarnation of her abusive ex-boyfriend, whom she killed years earlier. It’s no surprise to us whatsoever that Evil Eye is based on an audio play, because the film might’ve fared better if it had just stayed that way – much of the film’s runtime is spent watching Usha and Pallavi argue over the phone, and it’s certainly not the type of thing that would justify a film adaption.

Instead of what Evil Eye is, we couldn’t help but think about what Evil Eye could’ve been – there are so many scenes where the film could’ve taken full advantage of now having a visual medium to tell its story, but instead it goes for a straightforward, by-the-numbers adaptation that results in an underwhelming film. Like Nocturne, the film’s biggest failing is that the script is nothing special. It is moderately stronger because of the clear care and affection that goes into the writing of the mother-daughter relationship, but the film is just too unbalanced when it comes to splitting its time between Pallavi and Usha.

The first half of the film is very much Pallavi’s movie – a modern almost rom-com esque film, which is interspersed with flashes from Usha’s past. The second half is the Usha show, where Pallavi disappears almost entirely, except when she needs to be threatened by Sandeep. Speaking of Sandeep, Omar Maskati does an admirable job with the flimsy script he’s given, but it isn’t enough to save the one-dimensional character who’s more intimidating when he’s being talked about by Usha than he actually is in person.

Unforunately though, Evil Eye is even less scary than Nocturne – there’s not a single scare to be found, other than the film’s final fight sequence, which we guess could be classified under thriller? The rest of it plays out like a lifetime film or an hour and a half long episode of a daytime soap – full of banal drama and dialogue-heavy scenes with little to no payoff. Evil Eye is a win in that is puts Indian actors and creatives in the driver’s seat (a rarity in American cinema, and even more so in horror), but that’s pretty much all we can say positively about this painfully un-scary “horror” flick.

Next. Halloween viewing guide: 5 new horror shows to watch. dark

Have you seen Evil Eye or Nocturne? What’s your favorite horror movie? Sound off in the comments below!