It’s so easy to flip opinions as someone who writes entertainment news. Back when Eugenio Mira’s thriller Grand Piano was first announced, I was part of the crowd calling it "Speed on a piano bench," as the synopsis is a fairly simple one. But following the release of the film’s Spanish trailer and successful festival run, this film is back within my good graces, and the English language trailer seen above further proves that it’s right in tune with overcoming expectations. I guess I wasn’t expecting a Brian De Palma film by way of Italian giallo, with a healthy sprinkling of those Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes shorts where the characters played concert piano. But then who is?

For Grand Piano, Elijah Wood continues earning his indie cred as Tom Selznick, a master pianist who is making his comeback performance after previously suffering a mental setback. While he’s extremely nervous about flubbing the show, his nerves are sharpened even more by the presence of an assassin in the crowd who threatens the life of Tom and his family should the performance not be flawless. If Tom makes one mistake, he dies. If he tries to make anyone aware of his predicament, his wife (Kerry Bishé) dies. Stage fright has never seemed quite as dangerous before, or as twisty-turvy as Mira’s constantly fluid direction.

John Cusack is playing the villain, in a role that reminds me of Keifer Sutherland’s voiceover performance in Joel Schumacher’s Phone Booth – and few things actually remind me of that movie – and I hope he found a way to give the character more than one dimension, as hearing a constant stream of terse threats could run out of steam pretty quickly. But at just 90 minutes, I’m not sure he’ll even have enough time to overstay his welcome. Is it wrong that I hope he actually shoots Elijah Wood through the head by the end of it?

With a few other recognizable faces in the crowd, including Don McManus (Parkland), Dee Wallace (E.T.) and Alex Winter (Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure), Grand Piano will hopefully also embrace the piano as a secondary character, allowing music to guide the scenes. This is the first of Mira’s three films that he won’t be serving as a composer for, and hopefully that means we get a full orchestral soundscape instead of painfully obvious "tension music."

As with Wood’s other recent thriller, the downright sadistic and mostly terrifying Maniac remake, I want to feel slightly uneasy from the very first scene in Grand Piano, but I’ll have to wait until its release on March 7 to figure it out. Our Spanish-speaking audience will enjoy the original trailer below, which features some footage not seen in the one above, courtesy of Coming Soon.

grand piano poster

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