Crash Analysis: NIGHTMARE (2005)

A head scratcher – which may not be a bad thing

A film student directs his next great venture – or is someone directing him?

Writer/Director Dylan Blank, admittedly a horror junkie, and co-writer, Morgan Pehme, went full force with blood, guts, nakedness, thrills and a real brain-twister when putting NIGHTMARE together.

Taking place in New York, The Director (Jason Scott Campbell) just had a killer one night stand with Natalya (Nicole Roderick), until the pair wake up to find that someone had filmed them during the night – killing three women. Of course, they don’t remember a thing, and they must uncover what the hell happened. From this point forward, The Director gets the bright idea to make a film of this crazy experience – and continues to do so when the tapes keep coming.

Campbell certainly challenged Christian Bale’s portrayal of Patrick Bateman in AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000) when he needed to – and that’s not a bad thing. In fact, Campbell hit the mark every time as his character underwent an emotional rollercoaster, along with the audience that must struggle to put the pieces together. Furthermore, most of the acting was solid, including Roderick, Omar’s Amin Joseph and Raymond Russell Hamlin certainly stood out as Wes.

With low budget horror, solid acting is vital, but great lighting and cinematography definitely goes a long way, and Valentina Caniglia delivered on a grand scale. Caniglia’s two-shot of The Director and Natalya walking towards the camera down a New York street is fabulous as well as her well-framed shot of the pair along the river. Then again, she pulled off every scene beautifully.

But if all movies come down to the important detail of story, Blank and Pehme certainly wanted to deliver something a bit different – maybe with David Lynch in mind. In the behind-the-scenes video, Blank announced that he set out to do something different. Furthermore, he wanted the nakedness, and there are tons of it, to add to the horror instead of serving as gratuitous T-and-A fair, and he accomplished his goal without a doubt.

The ending, however, may prove too abstract for some moviegoers. Thankfully, the filmmakers have given us an out. Although you can indulge in their comments to determine their intent – though they encourage audience members to come to their own conclusions – the alternative ending puts things in perspective. So why didn’t they choose the alternate ending? My guess: They probably felt leaving a bit of mystery behind would be a good thing. Yet the alternate ending added that extra bit of “Oh, damn!” to my psyche and actually raised more questions. Then again, check out and see for yourself – and let me know your take.

4 out of 5 stars

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