Welcome to Cult Corner where we dive through the bargain bins to determine if a movie is trash or treasure. Today’s pick… Adrian O’Connell’s Nailed.
If I could describe Nailed in one sentence it would be From Dusk Till Dawn meets Oculus. Things start off very much as a crime thriller, rather than a horror movie, as we follow Keller and Scott, a couple of would-be drug dealers. But things go wrong and they soon find themselves on the run from the cops, with Scott having been shot in the shoulder. To hide, they duck into what appears to be an abandoned house and this is where things turn into more of a haunted house story. They encounter a wounded bedridden man and his caretaker Adam as well as plenty of hallucinations of snakes and ghostly figures.
The cast does a surprisingly good job here. The film is clearly incredibly low budget, so I was expecting something much worse. Sam Sarpong in particular is fun to watch, though he gets a bit grating eventually. It’s hilarious to see him put up this tough guy thug persona that not a single other character takes seriously. He’s more of a rookie in this business compared to the other guys and it’s clear that he has this “gangsta” idea in his mind that doesn’t necessarily translate to the reality of the situation. It’s pretty great to watch him joke around and get nothing but a completely apathetic response. Charles Porter and Wilson Jermaine Heredia round out the cast as Keller and Adam, respectively and they both hold their own. Adam is such a creepy character from the get-go, even though he’s constantly under threat from the other guys. He just has this calm demeanor that lets you know that he knows more than he’s letting on.
The hallucinations or hauntings that begin to take place start off well enough, but get relatively repetitive by the end of the movie. We see snakes, things appearing and disappearing, doors slamming shut, and a ghostly woman from time to time. Also, Keller starts to take a body horror style turn as he subtly begins to feel pains and itching. This is done very well as it’s barely acknowledged. Instead, the character begins to scratch himself, almost appearing as if he’s going through withdrawal (which ties a bit into his backstory). This aspect of the haunting is my favorite. The rest? Not so much. Sure, seeing things change or disappear is spooky, but they should have started off that way and progressed to something else. Either go more into the characters heads or go really surreal and over-the-top. There’s a few good moments, one in particular involving a dollhouse, but it just drags a bit.
That’s actually a problem with the movie on the whole as well. I can only hear the same argument about whether or not they should leave the house so many times before getting bored. Still, I would have forgiven some of the sluggish nature of the second act if things really came to a head and everything tied together nicely, but they don’t. There’s a twist at the end that probably made sense to someone, but isn’t properly explained. It feels almost like they came up with that first but didn’t take the time to construct a story around it that worked. I left feeling like this was a Creepshow short that was stretched too thin.
All in all, this movie is… okay. It’s not great, and it’s incredibly low budget, giving everything a cheapness. This is director Adrian O’Connell’s only film to date and his lack of experience shows. He’s not necessarily bad, but this doesn’t look like a finished commercial product. It looks like a student film. Still, there’s an eye for composition and pacing present and the cast carries the movie relatively well. With more money behind it and another couple of drafts of the screenplay this could have been a really good flick. It falls apart towards the end despite a promising first half, which is really disappointing.
Here at Cult Corner we cover the weird and obscure. Given the low budget that these movies often have we feel the need to recognize that entertainment value and quality aren’t always synonymous. That’s why we have opted for the “trash or treasure” approach in lieu of a typical rating system. After all, Troll 2 is incredibly entertaining but it’s no 8 out of 10.