Ummmmmmmmmm. I have A LOT of thoughts about this movie, though it will be really hard to explain it – because it is one of the weirdest rides I’ve ever been on. I think maybe going into the movie with no idea what you’re in for would be the best way to enjoy it – so maybe hold off this review until you’ve seen it? Your call obviously.
When troubled musical prodigy Charlotte seeks out Elizabeth, the new star pupil of her former school, the encounter sends both musicians down a sinister path with shocking consequences.
Charlotte (Williams) is a supernaturally talented cellist, forced to leave the prestigious Bachoff music academy to become a carer for her terminally-ill mother. When her mum passes away a decade later, Charlotte gets in touch with Anton (Steven Weber), the academy’s director. She’s invited to join him and his wife Paloma (Alaina Huffman) in Shanghai, where they are selecting their next musical prodigy.
Here she meets Elizabeth Wells (Browning), Anton’s star pupil and Charlotte’s replacement. Lizzie is, of course, an incredible talent and has already achieved enviable international success – but she’s also really cool. The girls hit it off and soon become very close. Very close indeed.
That night they end up in bed and Charlotte admits that Lizzie is the first person she’s ever been with, what with all the caring she’s been doing throughout her adolescence. Lizzie has decided to take some time off from music for once in her life and plans to do some travelling around China. It makes sense that she invites her new friend…
So the girls jump on a rickety old bus into the middle of nowhere, despite the fact that Lizzie is nursing the hangover from hell. Luckily, Charlotte is on hand to administer Ibuprofen and water every four hours.
When the pills don’t make Lizzie feel any better it becomes clear that there’s something very seriously wrong with her…
Honestly, from the bus ride onwards, all bets are off in this truly bonkers, grimy, fucked up masterpiece. I say this with love – the movie is one of the most bizarre I’ve seen in a long time and I loved every trashy moment. Just as you think you’re getting to grips with what the fuck is going on – you’re wrong. So very wrong.
I don’t want to give too much away but let’s just say, if you have the instinct that Charlotte can’t be trusted then you’re onto something – or are you? As this whole tale pans out, nobody seems to be who they say there are – least of all Anton and Paloma – and Bachoff might just be a front for something other than nurturing the musical talent of tomorrow.
There are some grisly horror moments that work very well indeed, and are somewhat unexpected – and there’s a really jarring stop-rewind-play plot device that didn’t work for me but adds to the melodramatic tone.
It’s a rip-roaring, crazy, limb flying, stomach churning adventure for which you’re going to have to suspend your disbelief – but hopefully you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. That climax though – the last shot is, well, perfection.