Salem Horror Fest: THE STRINGS Review – A Horrifyingly Profound Musical Thriller
Starring Teagan Johnston, Jenna Schaefer
Written by Ryan Glover, Krista Dzialoszynski
Directed by Ryan Glover
Salem Horror Fest is going virtual this year and the festival will span the first two weekends in October. Information on the program and passes can be found at Salem Horror Fest.
Ryan Glover’s feature film directorial debut, The Strings, will have its World Premiere at Salem Horror Fest the weekend of October 2nd, and the film is a feast for the eyes, ears, and mind. Glover wrote the story with Krista Dzialoszynsk and did the editing and cinematography for the film. Producers include Robert Menzies and Paul Moyer, who worked on films like The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015), and Dave Conlon and Bruce Fleming, known for A Nightmare Wakes (2019). Glover’s extensive experience as a cinematographer is evident in The Strings, which features uncomplicated, picturesque, breathtaking visuals. Director Ryan Glover just revealed the new poster for the film, which was designed by Drusilla Adeline of Sister Hyde Design.
The Strings tells the story of Catherine, played by real-life alternative recording artist Teagan Johnston (also known as Little Coyote), a troubled musician attempting to cope with her band breaking up, as well as her relationship with her boyfriend ending, while also producing new music. Catherine escapes to her aunt’s cottage on Prince Edward Island for some much-needed solitude and hoping for her musical creative juices to flow. Johnston’s portrayal of Catherine is almost immediately magnetic, and I longed to know more about her. This is Johnston’s first feature film and she is so comfortable in front of the camera that she is absolutely mesmerizing on screen.
Alone in the cottage and surrounded by a desolate, snow-covered landscape, Catherine begins creating music. Thanks to original music from Johnston and composer Adrian Ellis, The Strings has a haunting score, sometimes reminiscent of something you would hear at The Roadhouse in Twin Peaks. She meets up with a local photographer named Grace, played demurely by Jenna Schaefer, who takes Catherine to a supposedly haunted, abandoned farmhouse to take promotional photos. Allegedly, several people were brutally murdered in the house until it was left standing empty. The photos of Catherine posing in a fringed leather jacket in the dilapidated farmhouse are simply stunning, but while reviewing the photos later, she notices a shadowy figure in the background. Soon, she begins waking up in the middle of the night, after hearing strange noises, and feeling like she isn’t alone in the house.
The stress of trying to make new music and her manager forcing her to do interviews and sets in rundown bars soon begins to weigh on Catherine. When she can’t sleep, she watches videos about quantum physics, and says she wants to write music about more serious things instead of writing love songs. She begins a romantic relationship with Grace, but insomnia and terrifying dreams plague her mind. When Catherine tells Grace about the nightmares she’s been having, Grace tells her that sometimes you can see the strings being pulled from the outside, which is ultimately what the story is about. Eventually, Catherine can’t tell the difference between reality and her imagination and she begins to wonder who is pulling the strings that control her life – her or something evil.
This is such an impressive film that does so much with a simple location and an incredibly strong female lead in a mind-bending, terrifying story that doesn’t need to rely on flashy special effects. The dialogue is minimal and straightforward, and Johnston confidently carries the film on her shoulders, resulting in a dark and beautiful film that slowly draws you in and will leave you thinking about it long after viewing. A snowy backdrop, a hypnotic performance from Johnston, murderous hallucinations, and an eerie score, make The Strings a sensory experience that is enchanting and profoundly horrific. Don’t miss this movie.
A hypnotic performance from Teagan Johnston and a haunting score make The Strings a profoundly horrific sensory experience.