FrightFest 20: The Black String

Malcolm in the Middle has a diddle and ends up riddled in this new chiller soon available at Lidl. Probably.

Malcolm in the middling horror movie.

After an advert for a dating service appears to address him by name, a lonely convenience store worker (Frankie Muniz) hooks up with a stranger (Chelsea Edmundson) and soon finds that the singles hotline was more of a shingles goldmine. His search for the girl leads to a witchy cult and the flick turns from For a Good Time, Kill… into Rosemary’s Scabies.

This combination of venereal and psychological horror is tied together by first-time director Brian Hanson (not to be confused with Brian Henson, despite the string connection) and Muniz brings his usual nervous energy, but the picture soon grows repetitive and falls back on laboured occult clichés. Like Hereditary its heavy-handed insistence on the supernatural eliminates the ambiguity required for psychological horror to work, especially in the final scene.

In terms of films about cursed phone lines The Black String surpasses For a Good Time, Call… but falls short of 976-EVIL, leaving Malcolm somewhere in the middle.

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