Grand Piano (2013)

Directed By: Eugenio Mira
Written By: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Elijah Wood
  Kerry Bishé
  John Cusack
  Allen Leech
Grand Piano

Grand Piano is a loving throwback to the hey-days of the giallo movie, mixed with a heavy dose of Phone Booth. It doesn’t quite capture the masterful essence of an Argento or Bava creation, but it’s a fun ride with some memorable visuals, a thoroughly contrived plot and provides further proof that Elijah Wood is absolutely wonderful in the horror genre that he so loves.

The plot revolves around Wood’s character Tom Selznick, a gifted concert pianist who suffers from crippling stage fright. His actress wife and two friends are there to support him on his return to the stage as he prepares for his first performance in six years. Following a swift intro regarding the titular piano, we’re then literally following our protagonist as he makes his way to the theatre and deals with his increasing nerves as he prepares to take to the stage.

As Tom Selznick assumes his place in front of the eagerly awaiting audience, to perform an ‘unplayable’ piece of music, the same piece that previously caused him to metaphorically choke on stage all those years ago, he finds a note inside his sheet music that launches an incredibly well directed, visually stunning and masterfully tense second act.

Horror fans will find lots of familiar faces here including Alex Winter, Dee Wallace, In Fear’s Allen Leech and Red State’s Kerry Bishé. They all do really well with an occasionally poor and perfunctory script, and even the most casual cinephile will instantly recognise John Cusack‘s voice as the Kiefer Sutherland to Elijah Wood‘s Colin Farrell. Wood is going from strength to strength in the horror genre of late and this is another entry into his vast résumé. Despite looking forever baby-faced, he’s one of the most surprisingly versatile actors of his generation.

The story-line is ludicrous but most viewers will be having so much fun getting caught up in the taut piano concerto scenes that they’ll barely notice the silliness until the rather preposterous ending. It’s also ridiculously simple, which goes some way to proving that complicated plots aren’t necessary in order to make a genuinely suspenseful thriller.

Director Eugenio Mira makes what must have sounded dreadfully boring on the page, into a visual feast. He utilises every camera trick in the book but instead of seeming too showy or overconfident, it elevates the film above it’s shoddy script and makes it obvious that those involved must have been having a blast.

Grand Piano is a film that won’t ever warrant repeat viewings, and will likely infuriate viewers looking for realism or airtight plots, but it’s an adequately accomplished slice of glossy neo-giallo tension that will provide 80 minutes of breathless, lively fun if you let it.

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

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