Rolfe Kanefsky and his most recent co-conspirator (and frankly, his best) Tiffany Shepis have teamed up once again for their newest horror opus, “Nightmare Man”. In the past, they had joined forces on “Corpses”, the outstanding supernatural slasher “The Hazing”, and more recently, the comedy “Pretty Cool 2”. The dynamic duo has decided to trail once again into the beyond and this time with even greater results.
Blythe Metz (star of Kanefsky’s “Jacqueline Hyde”) is Ellen, a happily married woman trying to conceive her first child. Desperate for help, she special orders a fertility mask. Disappointed with her purchase, she tosses the mask away only to have it manifest itself into a frightening creature Ellen refers to as the “Nightmare Man”. After an attack, we flash forward to the present where Ellen is being escorted by her husband, William (Luciano Szafir) to an out of the way loony bin. To the outside world, and sometimes to Ellen herself, she seems like a woman on the verge of a total breakdown, almost convinced that the demon is an illusion, but once she’s left alone in the car, her ghoulish adversary appears and gives chase in the thick forest. Ellen stumbles across an intimate get-together being hosted by sexy Mia (Tiffany Shepis in one of her finest performances). The two partying couples find Ellen cut and bruised, and bring her inside. Ellen thinks the Nightmare Man has been exposed, but with no creature in sight and a phone call from William informing the group that Ellen is two cards short of a full deck, the group quickly divides and things really go off the cuff.
“Nightmare Man” is a solid, whirlwind of a horror movie, with more twists and turns than a hula hoop competition. Although I adore a film that puts the screws to you, I’ve never been one for twists because more often than not they feel haphazard, come out of left field and usually leave the audience bewildered. However, this is a tight script, much more taut than most genre films of late, and the storyline pays in spades. The actors are up to the challenge too, creating a fun and suspenseful surrounding for the mystery to unfold.
Kanefsky has been continually making a name for himself on the outskirts of popular filmmaking with wonderful popcorn fare like “There’s Nothing Out There” and “Pretty Cool”. And Shepis, arguably the hardest working woman in B-Movies, has repeatedly built up her strengths, never relying on just T&A to get her by. Throw in Metz, who was such a revelation in “Jacqueline Hyde” (nobody does crazy like Blythe!), and “Nightmare Man” might be the film that will give them the wide audience they deserve. If straight up horror can be this complex, without playing the “Scream” card (but make sure to catch the awesome “Trilogy of Terror” homage!), then you know you’ve got yourself a winner. And that’s exactly what “Nightmare Man” is.