Co-written by director Brian Hanson and producer Richard Handley, The Black String is the strangest movie you’ll see all year. A psychological horror with some elements of dark comedy, the movie features Malcolm in the Middle star Frankie Muniz as a lonely young man whose life completely unravels following a bizarre one night stand. As the story unfolds, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell what’s real and what’s not, and The Black String will keep you guessing every minute through all the way to the end.
Best known as a former child actor from the ’90s, Frankie Muniz does a fantastic job in the lead role of Jonathan, a twenty-something man living alone in a small apartment with his shift supervisor at the local convenience store as his only friend. Pressured to step outside of his comfort zone, Jonathan calls a singles hotline after its TV commercial appears to beckon him by name. After he engages in a sexual encounter against his better judgment, Jonathan is afflicted with a strange illness and bizarre visions. His friends and family believe he’s going insane, but Jonathan is convinced he’s the victim of a sinister conspiracy, intent to get to the bottom of whatever is happening to him.
It’s the little things which really help make The Black String that much more enjoyable to watch. Jonathan is a very socially awkward guy, resulting in a particularly amusing condom transaction at the convenience store early on in the movie. Eagle-eyed viewers may also spot some interesting details, such as dimming out the ‘N’ and ‘R’ letters on the “DINER” sign where Jonathan goes to eat. As his visions grow more nightmarish, however, the movie takes several dark turns, providing plenty of oddly creepy moments as well. Because of its eerie tone and the excellent acting from the cast, the horror elements of the story never feel cheesy.
As with Jonathan, I often found it hard to tell if he was really seeing the things he’s been seeing, or if everything taking place was just a matter of his mind deteriorating. At many times, I’d felt fully convinced things were one way, only for the next scene to lean me back in the opposite direction. This kind of storytelling makes for some truly compelling viewing, as I just had to find out where the story was going. While I thought I may have had some answers by the time the movie was over, I found myself spending lots of time afterward running the events of the story through my head and questioning things again.
The Black String is one of those movies you’ll be thinking about long after the credits roll, and if you’re a fan of psychological horror, it’s definitely one you’ve got to see. It may leave you with some questions, and the bonus features on the DVD will give you more insight into the story. These bonuses include an audio commentary, making-of featurette, deleted scenes, and alternate takes. The Black String is now available on DVD and Digital HD, courtesy of Lionsgate’s Grindstone Entertainment.
Jeremy DickPretty brains, lightning fingers. Find me at @HorrorGeekLife.