Directed by Dennis Bartok,
Starring Shauna Macdonald, Ross Noble, Steve Wall, Charlotte Bradley, Leah McNamara, Richard Foster-King
A new horror based in Ireland. When a woman obsessed with her health is out running she gets struck by a car. Waking up in hospital she finds she has lost the use of her legs, an arm is badly broken, a ventilator is breathing for her through her throat, and she has had a serious head injury. Her husband and daughter are there for her, and supportive of her, telling her she will get better. The only thing is that in this hospital there was a Angel of Death back in the 80s, a hospital employee that would end the life of young children, who then went on to kill himself. This man was known as Nails and he has returned as a vengeful spirit that has set his sights on Dana, and what Nails goes after, Nails gets.
Irish films lately have been hugely enjoyable for the most part, but the one area that has seemed to let them down has been the horrors; there are some that have tried and worked pretty well, but a number of others have been car wreck territory. Here the first half of the film will leave you scratching your head wondering why you’re in the cinema while the second half is Rear Window meets the Supernatural. It’s a game of two halves, as they say, and thankfully later parts of the film more than makes up for the somewhat clunky start.
Shauna MacDonald plays Dana, and while not your classic scream queen, she is quite good in the role of a lively, vibrant, athletic woman torn down by an auto accident and left to learn to live with the consequences. This is also where the film gets hindered with the clunky dialogue and where a horror fan may lose the will to live. There feels like there is a different movie in the middle of our horror film. The hospital administrator and the psychiatrist are a little too over the top horror fodder and when their fate is revealed it’s almost like you don’t care. I liked Steve Wall as the husband, trying to be supportive and holding the sanity of the once energetic wife in his hands. When the supernatural enters and it’s clear that it’s not just in the head of Dana is when the film really enters another level. Learning that there is a connection between Dana and Nails gives a little bit more understanding to the story and adds that little bit of depth that other horrors would have walked away from or just not have the courage to go with.
Don’t get me wrong as a B-Movie horror this is one of the better I’ve seen this year. Seeing Ross Noble leave his comedic brilliance behind and do a straight role as the put upon nurse’s assistant is a great thing to watch. But what I really loved is the appearance of the supernatural creature Nails. They have purposely understated his development, they could have thrown every cliché at him, but held back. The second half of the film ramps up the horror jump scares and makes this old withered horror fan just a happy camper. One of my fellow reviewers who doesn’t normally attend horror films, he’s a coward, had to leave the cinema during part of the scarier moments and that was a pleasant thing to see, in a strange sort of way.
The Rear Window meets the supernatural comparison is obvious to anyone that knows their cinema, and having Dana bed-bound by injuries while Nails is after her adds to that frustration. Flawed with some clunky dialogue along the way but showing in the second half that the film makers know how to make a good b-movie horror on a tight budget it redeems the film. It’s a rare thing to have one of these supernatural stalker films be any good at all these days. Nails managed to shrug off some early teething problems to finally show that Irish Horror has come a long way.