November 15, 2007

Movie Review: Nightmare Man

After Dark Films, founded by Courtney Solomon (Dungeons & Dragons and An American Haunting), is making a splash in the low-budget horror scene. In 2006 the After Dark Horror Fest arrived, spotlighting 8 films that would have otherwise been relegated to the straight to video market where they would most likely be ignored. This festival of sorts offered an opportunity for horror fans to get a look at these films on the big screen, as well as give the filmmakers some more exposure. This year, the second for the festival, I was able to take in five of the features. Are all of them great? No, but they all have something to offer, something outside of the mainstream glut of remakes and imports. One of these films is Nightmare Man.

Nightmare Man opens with Ellen (Blythe Metz) receives a package that she has been desparately waiting for. It is an ornamental African mark fashioned as a fertility idol. Apparently, she has been having some intimacy issues with her husband, Bill (Luciano Szafir). However, the plan backfires as she opens it only to discover a demonic looking devil mask, all red and complete with horns. Rather than instigate some good loving, it induces nightmares in Ellen. The nightmares get so bad that she has been put on medication (pills that look suspiciously like Tic-Tacs) to help keep those bad dreams at bay.

However, those Tic-Tacs, sorry, pills are unable to keep the dreams away forever. The dreams return. In these dreams a character with a face just like the mask that has some unsavory plans for the young woman. Fearing that she may be losing her mind, Bill bundles her into the car and they head off for the local mental hospital. As luck, fate, horror cliche (take your pick) would have it, the car runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere on a lonely road. When Bill heads off to find a gas station (indicating one way and walking the other), Ellen is left all alone with her nightmares that all of a sudden seem all too real. The Nightmare Man shows up, in the flesh, looking to send Ellen to the afterlife with a big ol' hunting knife.

Once the demon faced baddie shows up a chase ensures that takes our heroine through the woods only to arrive on the doorstep of Mia's (Tiffany Shepis) home where she is playing host to some friends for a game of erotic truth or dare. Mia and her friend's take Ellen in and tend to her wounds while also taking in her story of a red-faced killer leaping from her dreams into the real world.

Frankly, I had a hard time caring about the film, or any of the characters. Still, it was kind of a fun throwback to the low-budget slashers of the 1980's, and in that there was some charm to the proceedings. Sure, the story was not set up all that clearly, and the actions don't always make sense, but this is the kind of movie that is secondary to the actions of the killer.

As we get closer to the climax, something happens that actually drew me back into the movie (besides Tiffany Shepis acting all tough in her undies). It is clearly an homage to Evil Dead, but it works for this schlocky feature. It does not make this a good movie, but it does increase the fun factor, which would be even better if you were viewing with a number of like-minded friends.

Bottomline. Nightmare Man appears to have had a budget of about $2o and a camcorder borrowed from your friend's mom. In other words, it looks and feels cheap. It will never win any awards, but for a throwback homage it is kind of fun.

Now, I was going to give this cheapie a 2.5 rating, but I have decided to arbitrarily dock the movie a half star in its rating. The reason? The writer/director, Rolfe Konefsky, has been directing features for over 15 years. You would think that in that time he would have been able to come up with something a little better than this, if not in budget then in script. I have nothing against the guy, you know, but you would think with all that practice....

Mildly Recommended.


Post a Comment