User Reviews (32)

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  • ealanaiche11 January 2020
    The photography in this film is quite marvellous, as well as the atmosphere and, certainly, the music. The story is a bit lacking and it's been poorly executed. Overall, it was enjoyable, if one doesn't ask questions or even tries not to think. It had a promise of being an outstanding movie, but turned out weak.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    At the time of my writing this there is at least one positively-rated review here that gives a satisfactorily detailed plot synopsis, and so I see little point in writing one of my own and thereby potentially making readers cover the same ground twice. So this review contains only criticisms, observations and compliments regarding THE SONATA.

    As we devoted fans of supernatural/paranormal movies know only too well, our preferred genre is one of the most popular of all subjects in the entertainment industry today. This popularity leads to two regrettable phenomena: 1) every dweeb with a camera phone and some fishing line (for the "special-effects" doncha know) thinks they're qualified to make such a movie and 2) the vast majority of these (usually) low rent movies are, consequently, utterly unwatchable.

    Thankfully, THE SONATA is, mostly, a welcome exception to this sad reality. It's lamentable that I had to say "mostly".

    About 90% of THE SONATA is really very good. Many typical and recognizable ear marks of a quality movie are present: good production values, good acting, creepy and atmospheric sets and locations, high quality music, an unsettling story with mysteries and hidden, frightening secrets to discover and explore, and so on. For the majority of the picture the watching experience is enjoyable and satisfying.

    And then, suddenly, apparently out of nowhere, right as we begin the denouement, THE SONATA takes this giant, precipitous nosedive and faceplants in the dirt at the level of quality of a Syfy channel "original movie". We get a badly done, cheesy CGI demon-thing and in the next moment we see our beautiful heroin, on stage, playing her violin with faintly glowing eyes to signal us that she is now possessed by the demon-thing. Ta-Da, The End. Ugh. Sort of like topping a beautiful Bavarian tort with a cat turd. How many times have I seen that exact ending? Ruins the whole picture. The experience is not only "disappointing", to use an understatement, but given how well the movie was doing right up to that point, it's actually jarring. What happened? Did the writer die just before he completed the script and his Weimaraner had to write the last two pages?

    Randomly, here's a few other irritants that detracted from THE SONATA:

    A noticeable chunk of the dialogue occurs in French and, when I saw the movie, there were no subtitles. Some people might suggest I struggle with English and it's for dang sure I don't speak French. Given the context of the scenes in which the French language segments occur (questioning the housekeeper to see what she knows about the mystery demonic symbols, the heroin publicly mentioning, around some local yokels, that she lives at the Castle, etc.), it's fairly obvious what's being said. Still, it was an irritant to not know the details of dialogue content in a few scenes. Might have missed an important point there.

    In a strategic marketing move that I have come to view as intrinsically lowbrow, although other people might view it as a legitimate movie promotional strategy, THE SONATA features Rutger Hauer in a "loss-leader actor" character role (not terribly long before he died, as a matter of fact). In THE SONATA I think we see Rutger Hauer's face in a painting for more screen time than we actually see him acting. I get the whole "working actor" mentality (a la Nicholas Cage), but at least when Nicholas Cage does it he's usually the main character of whatever Paycheck Special movies he makes. Having Rutger Hauer's presence in the movie for 10 frames allows the producer to market the movie with a well-known name on it in the hopes of making it punch above its weight class. I don't think this is an actor selling his talent for money, which is, after all, what they do for a living; it's more of a "prostituting my famous name for a dollar and misleading the movie watching public as to what to expect from the movie". You might feel differently.
  • An interesting case for me - an unlikely indie I saw on the local big screen on Halloween eve, it was shown here because the movie is shot almost entirely in the country I live in (Latvia), mainly in the 19th century Cesvaine Palace, where I've also been. I was very intrigued upon hearing about it - I had no idea there was such a project. It's hard to understand how much bias I possess criticizing "The Sonata", but it was indeed quite enjoyable.

    "The Sonata" starts off with a pretty cool POV style intro and the late Rutger Hauer himself, the first half of the movie we spend mostly listening to a lot of story building dialogue, getting to know the archaic but decent characters, and also enjoying decent original score that's almost a character itself. The atmosphere feels gothic, misty, at times spooky and at times like its reaching for something but not quite achieving it. All the performances are commendable, I especially enjoyed the one by Simon Abkarian. The second half is the better half, things start to escalate more, atmosphere gets more dense, there are one or two actually good jumpscares and a somewhat lacking but acceptable climax. Cinematography's fine for the most part, the main location is utilised competently & effectively, even the cgi used managed to not cross the line of cheese.

    The story as a whole is nothing new really, it might make you reminisce about better interpretations of the same thing, but with a pinch of occult themes, a splash of cleverly included music "The Sonata" offers a decent entertainment for anyone who enjoys ghost stories, paranormal horror, gothic mood pieces and classical music. As for me, the additional value was to see places & nature that's very familiar to me get used in probably the biggest horror movie ever filmed in this small country. My rating: 6/10.
  • deloudelouvain27 February 2020
    To me The Sonata deserves a higher rating than it actually got on here. Andrew Desmond did a good job with this movie. There is a certain dark athmosphere created, mostly by the excellent soundtrack. If you want to make a good horror movie (even thought it's not categorized as such, but it should) you need good sound effects and music, that's just essential and in The Sonata it's just perfect. The acting wasn't bad either. I would have liked a bigger part for Rutger Hauer but the rest of the cast did certainly well. The Sonata isn't a very visual horror movie even though there are some good frightening scenes and jump scares, it's more an athmospheric horror movie that has it from the sound and story. Not bad at all if you like that stuff.
  • This movie will not stimulate your brain nor will it scare you. However, it was very atmospheric and moved at a nice pace. It started off quite good then for some reason, took a nose dive about half way through. The protagonist was also somewhat unlikeable and we never really get to know her in order to like her better. I found myself not really caring what happens to any of the characters. It started off well, but needed more character development and more of a story. The ending was overly simplistic. But I can't say it was boring.
  • Sonata is a movie that takes music in a (horror) movie and makes it about music in the movie as movies make music for the movie :). The problem with the movie is slow pace thus not offering nothing more noteworthy for the viewer. The idea of hidden notes in music having a certain effect on "time and space" is ok, but the director stretches it all to much, thus making the film's potential somewhat watered-down.
  • Very reminiscent of old Hammer horror films, with superb locations, quality performances from virtually all of the cast, superb music scoring and a really well orchestrated atmosphere of dread and suspense reminiscent of The Devil Rides Out and it was proceeding so well until the end and the last 10 minutes of the movie just fizzled and burned out like a damp squib.

    It had all the ingredients too, including a well paced and original story but what could have been a really great horror-thriller was spoiled by the rushed ending and brief CGI - such a shame but it is still well above average and beats most of the recent horror drivel that has been coming out of the film studios recently so a fair 6.5/10 from me!
  • ferguson-69 January 2020
    Greetings again from the darkness. A throwback to 1970's cinema is easy to appreciate, whether it was intended or nor. Writer-director Andrew Desmond's debut feature film certainly serves up the feel and style of so many of those low-budget horror films I watched as a youngster (many, it seemed, featured the late Roddy McDowall). Mr. Desmond and co-writer Arthur Morin (also his first feature film screenplay) likely viewed some of those same films, as this one succeeds in capturing the same creepy tone.

    For some, the music they create comes from their soul ... it makes them who they are. For these musicians, their obsession and quest for perfection can be off-putting to others. In an early sequence, we see young violist Rose Fisher (Freya Tingley, "Once Upon a Time") react to news of her father's death by shrugging and stating she wants to continue with her recording session. See, Rose's father deserted the family when she was a toddler, and the two never spoke again. Richard Marlowe (Rutger Hauer) was an exciting and brilliant young composer when he chose to drop out and live as a recluse (think Salinger). He's even compared to Pink Floyd founding member Syd Barrett. Rose chose to never use her genetics as a springboard to success; never even telling her manager Charles Vernais (Simon Abkarian, CASINO ROYALE) of the connection.

    Rose visits Marlowe's house, and before learning of the startling manner in which his life ended, she discovers his final composition locked away in a drawer ... a violin sonata seemingly left for her to find. Neither Rose nor Charles recognize some of the non-musical symbols included on the sheet music, but it's clear there are elements of genius in the piece. While Charles envisions piles of cash to be made by capitalizing on this situation, Rose sets about tracking down clues to the unknown symbols by exploring her father's estate.

    It should be noted that Marlowe's "house" is actually the 19th century Cesvaine Palace, and it makes a wonderfully gothic setting for this story. This sub-genre of horror films is always best when the setting is a creepy old mansion/castle, and includes a mysterious housekeeper, other-worldly children, a leather-bound book of secrets, and a subterranean room (this one is beneath a chapel) with curious wall murals telling some forbidden legend of the occult. The only element missing here is vicious dog that pops up periodically.

    The symbols lead to a French secret society, and in their own ways, both Rose and Charles learn that finishing Marlowe's final piece will conjure the Anti-Christ. While Charles pursues greed, Rose pursues the music. Spoken words pale in comparison to the music Rose creates. Screen veteran James Faulkner appears as Sir Victor Ferdinand in a vital supporting role. While it's a bit disappointing that the late, great Rutger Hauer has very little screen time, it's quite enjoyable to watch Ms. Tingley carry the lead. Mr. Desmond filmed in Latvia, and delivers a film that fits quite nicely for those who enjoy the creepy throwback horror style.
  • Bruxadomar10 January 2020
    3/10
    MEH
    Not as good as the reviews, good music but overall weak for the sharp mind, if you like violin playing go for it, if you like horror, don't!
  • waitsalive12 January 2020
    A decent horror flick that overall feels like a missed opportunity. About 20 minutes more for some backstory adding a touch more character development and I think we could have had a right winner. That and CGI looked like it came out of a video game. That all being said, I enjoyed it for the movie it should have been.
  • begob2 July 2020
    A brilliant young violinist inherits the music of her estranged father, a mysterious composer, but it leads her down the path to darkness ...

    Curious case of an ordinary tale with extraordinary potential. I was looking forward to a cinematic treatment of an evil phenomenon in music, but it didn't go there in the end, although I do think the idea was covered in the score.

    Instead, we get a traditional story with a puzzle in the symbolologicaltastic manner of Dan Brown - clever, but not enlightening, and nothing that couldn't have been dealt with in a 60m TV episode.

    The performances are good, with an odd difference in height between the two leads. There is material for the actors to get their teeth into, but the characters remain fairly simple, despite the dark past of family estrangement (the mother's story wasn't followed up) and alcoholism. I'm also thinking of the housekeeper, who really just shows up for exposition - in a film noir or in David Lynch she would serve several purposes at once and deepen our unease, focus the drama.

    The cinematography is quality. Not so sure about the direction, and certainly the editing and story line are a bit plain. The opening scene is effective, but had the feel of a first person POV sequence in an old video game. The choice of location at the old mansion was way over the top, immediately raising all sorts of irrelevant questions - it's not Dracula's Castle!

    The evil phenomenon in the music is the Devil's interval, which the lush score hits repeatedly - that unresolved discord made familiar through so many genres of disturbing music, and I hoped the story would somehow turn on this. Hard to say how to do it without ending up as '60s psychedelia, but I think it would need a shift of perception, a shift in the story-telling itself, to provide an interval in reality through which we slide down to Hell. Ahem. You know what I mean. But not this time.

    Overall: Good production, but lack of depth in the story.
  • fathe-islam5 March 2020
    Everything was better except the story! The main story or the main element of fear was not enough to execute in the movie. So a good time pass but nothing permanent.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Rose Fisher (Freya Tingley) inherits the large manor of her estranged compose father Richard Marlowe (Rutger Hauer). She rummages through his belongings and discovers a sonata with strange markings. Together with her agent, they decipher the strange symbols on the sheet music.

    This is not the first magical/evil composition film. With Rutger Hauer, the production had a 1950-1960's "Boris Karloff" feel to it. Unfortunately, the film spent too much time on a moody teen that could not carry the film by herself with the lame dialogue,

    Guide: F-word. No sex or nudity.
  • I loved the story, it's different from any movies before. Also I loved the sounds and the beautiful classic music inside the movie. But I think it's missing parts of the story, I wished that the end was more satisfied than what it was. But at the end it's very beautiful movie in my opinion.
  • Not the best acting, but everything else was pretty much on target. Along the lines of any movie with satanic themes, it is right up there, had it had a larger budget and better actors, it would have surpassed the best of the best. The ending was unnecessary and there are other things to criticize, but all in all, worth a watch.
  • Firstly, the cinematography is wonderful, but it looks like it was shot on video, a shame they couldn't have made it more film like, as the video effect makes it look cheap.

    The female lead is desperately unlikeable, maybe she's meant to be, but I think making her personality a little more pleasant would have been a good thing.

    There is bags of atmosphere here, but the story seems rushed, and at just about 83 minutes running time, it could have been longer and the story fleshed out more.

    Also, for anyone considering the German blu ray which has an English soundtrack, well yes it does, but there are three instances of French being spoken, and there are no English subtitles for them, which means you have to switch the German subtitles on, and then use Google translate, unless you speak French of course!

    The idea is great, but the execution isn't that brilliant, a bigger budget would definitely have helped here.
  • Also are you ok with puns? I may have been way funnier than the entire movie put together. Although "funny" is in the eye of the beholder, but I don't expect anyone laughing more about or during the movie, than while "enjoying" my summary line. But that aside, this is a horror movie that while it is predictable (with jump scares and all), is decently done to say the least.

    And I reckon one of the last movies Rutger Hauer did ... although I don't know with what pace he worked, so maybe he did quite a few more. Also he's not playing first fiddle here - is that just a German saying? Not sure how this translates, but the pun was worth it. The movie is predictable but was well done overall
  • It wasn't poorly made. The scenery was nice, and the film didn't have that tacky quality that the real bad flicks have. The acting was decent, also. There could have been more to the story, but it isn't the kind of movie you would turn off to find something else.
  • The overall film wasn't bad. Acting and production were decent. But, the story starts small and stays small. Ho hum. Reminds me of The Ninth Gate (which I didn't enjoy) and The Perfection (which I did enjoy). I wasn't bored, and I enjoyed my time watching it. But overall the story doesn't bring enough to make this a good film. The parts are better than the whole.
  • I had the chance to catch the film at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival in a packed full house. It was amazing to share the emotions in this room. The film was in Official competition and I understand why ! The cinematography is exceptional ! Reminds you a lot of "Woman in Black" very Hammer type of smart Gothic thriller. Really cool mystery thriller with characters that are true and believable. I loved Freya Tingley in "Jersey Girls" and here she is just nailing her part. Simon Abkarian has this charisma that gets you on the edge of your seat every time he appears. I think it is Rutger Hauer's last feature and he did not disappoint as this threatening figure. It is very well directed film, the pace is perfect and get you straight into this eerie atmosphere. The story builds up beautifully until a crazy climax scene that will let you breathless. And finally let's not forget the music that will haunt you for days. AlexiS Maingaud did a crazy job to materialise this cursed piece of music that is enchanting and disturbing at the same time !!! I wish they would do a live concert soon !!! I enjoyed every minute of this film and I wish it had been longer. I really recommend this film and cannot wait the next feature of this talented director !
  • Musically its wonderful. The end character needs a bit more rendering. But overall. This is going on my list of favorites, and it won't be just for horror.
  • One of the best horror misterious movie it will transport you to that enegmatic ward of music and old castle Very melancholic Rose and her caracter Highly recommend for those with specific taste
  • Do you like a dash of classical music? And are you a fan of Gothic horror movies such as "Crimson Peaks" for example? Well, then you'll certainly enjoy yourself with this movie "The Sonata". However, if you are looking for a scary and nerve-racking horror, then it would be best to ignore it. Because it really isn't creepy at all. Only the background music tries its best to make it all a bit more exciting. Even worse. In this film, classical music is even the means par excellence for opening the gate to hell so the Prince of Darkness in person can walk amongst us. All quite mysterious but the film just didn't make it to the "horror" category.

    The most unique thing about the film is the fact that Rutger Hauer shows up in it. Most likely his last achievement in the field of acting. But don't get too excited. The number of times he appears on screen is fairly limited. He may be the central figure in this mystery, which mainly takes place on French territory, but still, he plays a minor role. Hauer plays the eccentric composer Richard Marlowe who has withdrawn to an old mansion from the 10th century to compose a final symphony there. Marlowe may not have been a famous composer, but he was a notorious one. "A trendy composer" as Charles Vernais (Simon Abkarian), the agent of the talented violinist Rose Fisher (Freya Tingley), claims. The Syd Barrett of the classical music scene, as it were. When Richard Marlowe dies, his daughter Rose (her father disappeared out of her life when she was 14 months old) inherits the estate and his notorious past. And when the wayward Rose travels to France to view the dilapidated estate, she finds, miraculously, the latest creation of her deceased father. A violin sonata that, according to her agent, could cause quite a stir in the world of classical music. Did they know that this bundle of scores full of musical notes and mysterious signs would become a completely different source of misery?

    "The Sonata" is not really a movie to remember. There are too many flaws to be discovered in it. First of all, there's the acting part. This was generally acceptable. But at times it was simply bad. As if the actors weren't able to empathize with their character suddenly. The only one who continued to act on the same level was Freya Tingley. Not only she's a natural beauty. Her acting as the somewhat emotionless and resentful Rose is absolutely splendid. The most disappointing thing about this film was the CGI. I haven't seen such outdated special effects for a long time. Most probably the budget must be blamed. Especially the graphics at the end of the film was laughable. And as said before, there's also the total lack of tension or creepiness. Apart from a single "jump scare", this was a rather weak aspect. And many will complain about the denouement. A "That's it?" sigh won't be far away. And some things didn't make much sense either. For instance. Despite the alienation from her father (even being ignorant of whether he's alive or not), Rose doesn't hesitate for a second to travel to France and move into a ruin that looks like a haunted house. Weird.

    Naturally, you expect a film about a possessed house where restless souls roam around. In a sense, that's true, but it doesn't feel that way. It's rather a film about obsession and the power that lies in music. The most positive thing about the film is the overall atmosphere they managed to create. And this mainly due to the set-up. An age-old country house with dark, drafty rooms full of cobwebs. Where people still have to use such a medieval-looking candlestick at night. But the soundtrack also contributed to the mood. Something I don't really pay attention to normally. But I have to admit that classical music is extremely suitable to give it a more spooky touch. Only the music wasn't enough to make it a scary movie. A nice attempt. A pleasure to see Rutger again. But unfortunately, nothing special either.

    More reviews here: movie-freak.be
  • Warning: Spoilers
    THE SONATA (2019) *** Freya Tingley, Simon Abkarian, James Faulkner, Rutger Hauer, Catherine Schaub-Abkarian. Well-executed horror flick with a top-notch performance by Tingley as a promising violinist who finds herself in dark waters when her estranged father (Hauer in one of his final performances), a brilliant but mentally unbalanced classical composer, commits suicide and bequeaths his estate and legacy to her. Filmmaker Andrew Desmond - who co-scripted the well-crafted screenplay with Arthur Morin - lavishes on the atmosphere largely thanks to the beautiful production design by Audrius Sumikas and handsome cinematography by Janis Eglitis elevates its tale of dread and demonic underpinnings with finesse. Worthy to seek out.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This film start with a man "Richard" writing the music score, he burn himself to death, and the introduction of a violinist "Rose" scene! As turnout, this film is about Rose's manager(Charles) using Rose to play the sonata to summon the ancient ghost, because Rose has a pure heart! Entire film full of boring overuse scene! Such as, overuse of the jump scare scene, overuse of the searching things scene, overuse of the walking scene, and overuse of the dreaming scene! Make the film unwatchable! At the end, Rose play the sonata, the ghost appear and kill Charles! At the very end, Rose playing violin at the stage! That's it! A super boring film! Completely wasting time to watch!
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