The Black String – USA, 2018 – reviews

‘Evil is skin deep’

The Black String is a 2018 American mystery horror-thriller about a paranoid young man who starts to believe he is the victim of an occult conspiracy.

Directed by Brian Hanson from a screenplay written with Richard Handley, and based on a story by Andy Warrener, the movie stars Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle), Jackie Moore, Chelsea Edmundson and Ravi Patel.

Plot:

Lonely slacker Jonathan is stuck working night shifts at a convenience store. When he goes on a blind date with a strange woman, his world suddenly begins to unravel in horrifying fashion.

Plagued by paranoia, illness and nightmarish visions, he desperately searches the suburbs for the mysterious seductress. His friends and family believe he’s losing his mind, but he believes he’s the target of a sinister occult plot…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“Is Jonathan actually at the center of a trans-dimensional conspiracy, or is he just going crazy? Inevitably, much of the unnerving energy depends on Muniz, who deploys his trademark brand of wired and wiry energy to keep the reality of the insanity ambiguous until the closing moments.” Richard Whittaker, The Austin Chronicle

“It’s an interesting exploration into madness and paranoia brilliantly brought to life by Muniz. He is physically unrecognisable at the end. Such is the power of the events and thoughts that engulf him.” Callum Shepherd, Brit Flicks

“Fans of Muniz will appreciate seeing him on the big screen and giving such a great performance, and it’s definitely a good role for him. At times the plot is a little messy but there’s enough going on to keep you hooked until the very end, which actually manages to deliver a surprise or two.” Pip Ellwood-Highes, Entertainment Focus

“At its surface, The Black String is an exploration of Lovecraftian horror accompanied by themes pertaining to family, drug addiction, mental illness and more […] Ultimately, The Black String is dark, bleak and absolutely full of horror. It’s a truly great debut feature from its creators and from Muniz whose unwavering talent will surprise its audience.” Toni Stanger, Film Era

The Black String may well be a bit too close to the DNA of It Follows, but it manages to form its own identity with a level of body horror that’s satisfyingly grisly, anchored by a Muniz performance of nervous energy. A bleak, but entertaining dive into desperation and paranoia.” Andrew Gaudion, The Hollywood News

“Muniz excels in this role, fully managing the shift from an endearing loser nobody notices to an erratic maniac everyone would rather ignore. Telling such a personal story, and doing so ambiguously, necessitates that there can’t/ won’t be many set pieces. People may be deterred when it doesn’t go for a big third act finish.” David S. Smith, Horror Cult Films

“The tension of this horror-thriller rather depends on what may be an increasingly unstable suffer through a personal kind of hell […] However, The Black String still proves to be a gripping watch, offering an effective central performance, disturbing hallucinations and some truly gruesome body horror.” Ren Zelen, Horror DNA

The Black String is a stellar fright fare effort that boasts an impressive directorial debut, a dazzling performance by its star, and a story that weaves persecution complex and occult elements masterfully. It will assuredly find a spot on my list of top 10 horror films for 2019.” Joseph Perry, Horror Fuel

Horrorphilia podcast review

” …the film risks alienating audiences by making its lead character someone who you wouldn’t want to spend time with even if he weren’t cursed.  Muniz […] immerses himself in the character, and hints at the squashed sensitivity – Jonathan sketches – beneath the whining self-pity and peeled-back bandages.” The Kim Newman Web Site

“In terms of the genre however what strikes you the most about The Black String is the films body-horror elements which are a mix of the work of David Cronenberg and the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft. Both work in tandem to create a visceral, creepy and very dark, truly bleak, story which allows not only Muniz to shine but also the film’s writer and director…” Phil Wheat, Nerdly

“I can’t recommend it enough. It’s everything you want in a horror-thriller plus more. The performances are top-notch, and it has enough suspense and mystery to keep you guessing throughout its runtime!” Tori Danielle, Nightmarish Conjurings

” …what starts as a comic character study of a young, disaffected loser quickly turns into a more sombre and sinister reading of his entrails. In denial of what he wants and in fugue from what he fears about himself, Jonathan will come apart at the seams. The film does too (in a good way), offering an alternative, parallel frame for Jonathan’s marginalisation and mania via the language of genre.” Anton Bitel, Projected Figures

“Not only does Muniz tackle the role, he pins it to the ground and holds it there for the duration of the film. Running the range from awkward sensitivity to spittle-flying rabid paranoia, his performance in The Black String has marked him as a genre star to watch in my book […] it’s definitely worth a viewing.” The Scariest Things

“The blinding sunshine contributes to the general feeling of disorientation, and the film definitely impresses when it goes for the gut (the titular string is deeply unpleasant). It is a little overstretched even at 90 minutes and threatens to become a little repetitive, but throughout it all there’s Muniz’s committed and truly impressive performance…” Jonathan Hatfull, SciFiNow

Release:

The Black String premiered at the Austin Film Festival on 25 October 2018.

Cast and characters:

  • Frankie Muniz … Jonathan
  • Alexander Ward … The Entity
  • Jackie Moore … Lollipop
  • Ravi Patel … Dr. May
  • Chelsea Edmundson … Dena
  • Bret Green … Fit Guy Chad
  • Angie DeGrazia … The Wife
  • Cullen Douglas … The Man in Black
  • Colby French … Dad
  • Blake Webb … Eric
  • Sanae Loutsis … Isabella
  • Mary K. DeVault … Melinda
  • Gary Sievers … Homeless Mike
  • Richard Handley … Dr. Ronaldi
  • Sylvia Kochinski … Chatline Girl

Technical details:

93 minutes

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