‘Catherine will see…’
The Strings is a 2020 Canadian horror film about a dark presence that terrorises a female musician at a remote coastal cottage.
Directed by Ryan Glover (Hills Green) from a screenplay co-written with Krista Dzialoszynski.
The Eggplant Picture & Sound-Observer Effect Productions movie stars Teagan Johnston (aka Little Coyote, who also composed and played the music live on set), Jenna Schaefer (Makeout Massacre short) and April Aliermo.
Produced by Krista Dzialoszynski, Ryan Glover and Robert Menzies (The Monster; I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House; The Blackcoat’s Daughter).
In the dead of winter, musician Catherine (Teagan Johnston) travels to her aunt’s remote cottage on the shores of Prince Edward Island to work on new material in solitude.
Soon after visiting an abandoned farmhouse with local photographer Grace (Jenna Schaefer), strange and disturbing occurrences begin to manifest at the cottage, escalating each night and eroding Catherine’s sense of reality…
“Ironically the shadow is often revealed in the exact location that we expect, but Glover’s direction and Adrian Ellis’ score, which employs operatic choir music, ensures that foreknowledge never dampens its impact. Inevitably these encounters escalate in proximity and threat, eventually leading to a shocking and memorable climax, though some will find the lack of concrete answers or proper resolution unsatisfying.” Bloody Disgusting
” …its mumblecore approach to drama can occasionally be exasperating (as in such fellow 2020 vacation home horrors as She Dies Tomorrow and The Beach House), and the dialogue scenes sometimes fall prey to the indie film temptation to give characters 1.5 times as many words as they should. Still, even in the current cycle of auteur-driven genre pictures, it’s rare to find a horror film this raw and personal.” Boston Hassle
“The heart of The Strings is Johnston’s performance as Catherine, and while there is a bit of unevenness to her acting in the film […] there is definitely a point in the film where it feels like she really settles into the role […] It might take some time to get going, but once it does, it rewards your patience by creating a horrifyingly hypnotic, low-key descent into the unknown that will crawl right under your skin before you even realize it…” Daily Dead
“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.” Dread Central
“It’s easy to imagine strange supernatural forces inhabiting this landscape, and The Strings suggests that it’s not that the cottage itself is haunted, but perhaps Catherine herself has inadvertently brought something in. It’s a quieter, more internal manifestation of a haunted house movie, and one that’s both visually and sonically arresting.” Exclaim
“Simultaneously traversing the realms of creativity, emotional healing, time, space and our place in it, the film offers a hauntingly unique picture of the world. A dark exploration of the strings that bind, lead, attach, and free, Catherine’s story is a refreshing spin on what it means to be haunted. And while the scares are unquestionably effective, the film’s true strength lies in the frightening terror that sinks in when one stops to think about who — or what — is pulling at those strings.” Film Cred
“The Strings is superb at the jump scare through its use of soft or no sound. Being that the film is themed with a musician in an abandoned and isolative landscape, Glover again feasts on his atmosphere to deliver the goods. The minute I strain to hear the theoretical physics Catherine is watching on her laptop or suspect the movie is done setting up a scare, it seems to strike.” Horror Obsessive
“The film creates an atmospheric and slow build but would make for a great late-night, middle of winter watching experience. Turn off all the lights and take up residency in the dark and cold cottage as The Strings pulls you into the quietness and builds tension through the constant feeling of isolation. Catherine does not express loneliness except in her song lyrics, and her daily activities grant her a level of empowerment as she wanders the landscape.” Killer Horror Critic
“When I say it’s slow I mean slow, and some viewers will understandably not have the patience for how long it takes for the action to pick up… […] But for those willing to stick it out, willing to engage with the sly nods to theoretical physics and to try to unravel the obscure, obfuscated haunting at the film’s core, it’s a rewarding experience.” The Queer Review
“A modest but powerful film, The Strings hits all the right notes and offers a refreshingly organic queer relationship and unconventional lead. More unsettling than it is genuinely frightening, it doesn’t seem particularly interested in giving many answers […] But for those who enjoy a good slow-burn, put this one on to simmer and let it wrap you in its icy layers.” Scream magazine
The Strings premiered at this year’s virtual edition of the Salem Horror Festival.
The film will be available for streaming on Shudder on Tuesday, November 23rd 2021.
Cast and characters:
Teagan Johnston … Catherine
Jenna Schaefer … Grace
April Aliermo … Anita
Lora Bidner … The Pianist
Toby Hendy … The Physicist
Tara Niewiadomski … The Tattoo Artist
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio: 5.1 stereo