A crude and overbearing father causes his son to develop a disturbing nervous habit — excessive nailbiting.
Best described as grotesque, Nailbiter relies on close examination of seemingly normal behavior from afar but up close this behavior takes on a new disturbing feature. The child’s nailbiting causes bleeding from his fingertips and close ups of the father eating dinner is almost too disgusting to watch. The mother’s frantic actions in the kitchen, preparing the family dinner, also take on a disturbing quality. Running through the film is the father’s abusiveness lying just below the surface, waiting to lash out. Thus turning the mother into a frantic mess and the son into a nervous nailbiter. After the father finally lashes out in a violent act, the mother takes action to relieve the house of his tyranny.
There is absolutely no conversation in the film. Nailbiter relies exclusively on camera movement to emphasize the emotion of the scene. In this regard, Nailbiter succeeds in relaying the dysfunctional nature of the family.