Nailbiter

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Nailbiter
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Nailbiter
Horror
Ministry Machines Productions, Seno Reality Pictures
May 28th, 2013
Release length: 1:22:00
When you hear a film is called Nailbiter, you immediately assume the writers are full of themselves, almost promising to deliver on an eighties style of Horror that the world has been trying to reproduce, but simply can’t in this day and age. But, when you read the plot of this film, it’s almost impossible to not think writers Patrick Rae and Kendal Sinn haven’t come up with a highly promising concept. This straight-to-DVD flick was just released in May of this year, and there hasn’t really been much believable positive press towards it. But, is this film of entrapment and mutations really that bad, or is it just getting a bad rep for one reason or another?

The story follows the Maguire family heading out of town to pick up the father of the three sisters, a journey being handled by his wife, mother of the girls. She wants the family to be the first thing that he sees when he lands. During this trip, they make a quick rest stop, and learn that a storm is coming, and tornadoes have been spotted. Eventually the predictable inevitable happens and they run to find shelter, finding themselves locked in the cellar of Mrs. Shurman (Joicie Appell). The family, however, is not alone, and quickly find they are being held hostage with some creature running loose outside, and one still inside.

Eventually, the death count starts, though most of the scenes happen off screen and have an unintentionally hilarious voice over of a man supposedly gnawing the victims to death. The family finds a moonshine kit downstairs with plenty of already made spirits available, which is implied to keep the creatures calm as they start to change from human to this animal-like thing the more intense a storm is. Eventually some of the family escapes to a nearby house, where the big plot twists occur before the The Wizard of Oz style conclusion wraps things up in a way that leaves the movie open for a sequel with the concept of the father possibly going to the town to find his family and get revenge for what they went through thanks to finally getting the text messages the one daughter had been sending the whole time in the cellar.

Nailbiter is the first full movie for those two writers, as they have largely handled short films up to this point, and it does show. This film’s story is essentially a generic werewolf tale but with weather being the trigger instead of a full moon. A hint of corruption, a little old lady in control, and a few plot twists toward the end that you actually don’t see coming at first all work more as an effort that would have been better left at forty, maybe fifty minutes. Instead, a good deal of time is wasted setting up some tension that doesn’t really exist, or just tasks that didn’t need to be observed the whole way through, such as the moving of the moonshine distillery from a back room through a long hallway, or the five minutes of finding notepads and entries that beat the viewer over the skull that these things come out during the storm.

On top of all this, the acting simply wasn’t good from anyone involved in the film. The writing was also rather sub-par, such as a small correction from a sister leading to this huge blow up about how smart she is when it doesn’t take a genius to know half these things she points out, such as not putting flame near a propane tank. In fact, it makes these characters even more unlikeable in the sense that they all seem to just be too braindead to survive on their own most of the time, leaving you to just wait for them to do something stupid and die such as the one character getting killed off in an explosion because she stood there and watched it happen, as well as group decisions to leave the youngest of the sisters alone knowing there is one of these creatures around and could possibly get in to kill them at any time.

Finally, there’s the production, and the audio was the worst offender of them all. All the dialogue sounded thick and low quality despite the decent cameras capturing some rather crisp visuals. The creatures themselves weren’t too bad to look at when moving, but when it’s just a steady frame, you would see an appendage as a horribly made prop that changes your perception of these things. One scene has a leg coming down from the top of the screen, never moving, but looking like song kind of scaly chicken leg, and a similar arm reaching into view without the fingers opening to go around the face of one of the girls.

The only time that the visuals and make-up actually work are during one of the twists at the end, where one of the sisters is trapped with four children that have changed into these monsters, which also don’t even look like the chicken arm and leg creatures we already saw before that. It genuinely is creepy in this scene, and you even feel bad for her as the creatures tear her apart with her sister in the other room unable to save her. Cherish this moment when it comes, as it really is the only intentionally memorable scene of the film.

Nailbiter is essentially a short film padded out into a full-length with some really poor production and prop choices, as well as mediocre acting all around. It’s hard to care about anyone in this film, and you’ll be rooting the whole time for Mrs. Shurman, as she plays up the sweet and innocent older mother well enough to come off somewhat likeable in the sense that most people can relate to knowing someone like her. Aside a few laughs, Nailbiter is far from a good or even original film, though there are still far worse out there, and it does have a few redeeming features. In fact, if a sequel were made and it had more substance to the plot, better acting, and better production qualities, this could end up an interesting little two or three part series. But, for now, this is the sort of film only worth watching if you get to see it for free, or if you have exhausted your Netflix que.

Overall Score: 3/10
Nailbiter
Nailbiter

Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.