Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nightmare Man (2006)

Since this is not a professional review, allow me to take the opportunity to laugh: HAHAHA! There. I almost feel better. It's been a while since I've watched any entries from the After Dark Horrorfest, mostly due to the fact that I swore I'd never watch another one again after witnessing a nice little failure called The Deaths of Ian Stone. Take my word for it, the Masters of Horror series puts the After Dark Horrorfest to shame.

I remember when I first saw the advertisement for the 8 Films To Die For, but I can't remember what I was watching at the time. All I know is that I had to see those films. The campaign heralds the films as being so horrifying, so shocking, they couldn't be released in theaters because they would stop the hearts of the general audience. (After seeing a few of these movies I came up with some ads and slogans of my own!)

These films just don't hack it, and Nightmare Man is a prime example. Chalk it up to bad acting? No, chalk it up to bad acting and bad directing, but not bad writing. The writing actually had a lot of promise and could have made a solid movie had they revised it a couple of times during the course of filming. To the writer(s): My condolences to your script. This movie is an utter failure and its blatant attempts to keep our attention until the "clever twist" are feeble and give weight to my claim that everyone involved in making this movie knew it was a flop.

Plot: A woman orders a fertility mask and starts seeing the "Nightmare Man." Her husband puts her on medication and attempts to help her see reality again. How many different combinations of this plot have we seen before? A woman tries desperately to persuade her husband that she's not crazy. The movie tries to be fun, but with the Z-movie acting it comes offs as more of an after school special.

What follows is my abridged list of flops.

1) The acting was so forced and painful to watch--and listen to--that I kept having daydreams of stabbing my ears and eyes with a pair of scissors. Unfortunately, this little recurring daydream was more frightening than the horror movie I was watching.

2) There was an excessively long "woman chased through woods" scene. In order to hold the audience's attention, we are shown scenes of four lascivious friends playing erotic truth or dare, which reminded me of being in junior high. But it had to be done or else the 20 minutes of a woman running through the woods, hiding behind trees, jumping at every sound, seeing the killer in the distance, tripping over nothing in particular, and screaming would have been an invitation to head out to the concession stand for some more popcorn.

3) Toward the end of the epic "woman chased through woods" scene (did Homer write this scene? perhaps Virgil?), the woman turns and is violently startled by a...tree. A TREE! She's been running around in the woods for 20 minutes people. She might as well have been swimming in the ocean for 20 minutes and then been startled by the water.

4) The movie tries to redeem itself from the cliché "car is out of gas" and "honey, I know you're an attractive, mentally unstable woman, but wait here in the dark while I go to the gas station" by making them part of the plot, but when it is revealed to us that these clichés were intentional, and the movie's big twist is released I just laughed sotto voce. Really, I felt indifferent about it. Just get on with it, I thought.

5) Dreadful humor caused the movie to remain silly, especially in parts where it was supposed to be terrifying. Suggestion: If the cast can't even pull off acting like average human beings, don't try to make them witty.

Mia: "My guess is: that was not the cat."
Jake: "Do you have a cat?"
Mia: "No."
6) The ending tried to take a serious turn, but I found myself confused. Not that I didn't get the explanation behind the Nightmare Man. It was just that the contrast of the first 75 minutes and the last 15 minutes was outright baffling. It actually reminded me a lot of my life. You see, I joke around a lot, and sometimes when I'm being serious people have to ask, are you being serious or sarcastic? Now I know how they feel.

If you've read this far, chances are good you've seen Nightmare Man already. To you, I empathize. If you've read this far and have not seen the movie, I envy you.

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