It’s a setting we are all familiar with. A bed-ridden patient, a dilapidated hospital, and a ghost bent on tormenting any in its realm. Somehow, Writer, Director Dennis Bartok is able to breathe new life into conventional tropes to deliver something that isn’t exactly groundbreaking, yet original enough to be satisfying.
Dana (The Descent’s Shauna Macdonald) is a fitness guru who’s life is irrevocably changed when she is hit by a car. Paralyzed, suffering slight brain damage, and silenced due to a respirator lodged in her trachea, her new reality is one of total loss of control.
“Writer, Director Dennis Bartok is able to breathe new life into conventional tropes…”
Speaking through a computer device she attempts to convince her caretakers, her daughter Gemma (Leah McNamara) and her wandering husband, Steve (Steve Wall), that there is something else in the room with her. A ghost, that comes out at night when no one else is around. She is dismissed, even told that she is hallucinating. Yet she persists.
Of course, we know that there IS a malevolent spirit skulking about, intent on collecting his last patient. Known as Nails (Richard Foster-King), we soon learn that there is far more to the story than any at the hospital are letting on. As Dana’s husband begins to court a much younger woman, Dana must somehow escape the clutches of the monster before it is too late.
Horror veteran and bad a*s, Macdonald works her magic, bringing quiet strength and pathos to a nearly silent role. Limited in dialogue, her facial ticks and legible eyes convey plenty when her voice is taken from her. Foster-King is a nasty treat as Nails. His snaps and twitches are unnerving in a way that recalls Doug Jones better work. Silent this monster is menacing.
“Horror veteran and bad a*s, Macdonald works her magic…”
A familiar ghost story of sorts, screenwriters Bartok and Tom Abrams keep their heroine strong and give her enough vulnerability to be believable. Cassi Brookes make up is remarkably restrained and believable, from the creature effects to the complex wounds. Nothing is overwrought.
Certainly worth the time, Nails delivers some wonderful jump scares while offering the comfort food of a ghost story. Not to mention we get another performance by Macdonald.
Nails (2017) Directed by Dennis Bartok. Written by Dennis Bartok, Tom Abrams Starring Shauna Macdonald, Leah McNamara, Ross Noble, Steve Wall, Richard Foster-King
Nails is worth Matinee (***).
Norm’s Rating System: Full Price (****), Matinee (***), VOD (**), Don’t Bother (*)