US Rating: Unrated
Film Length: 89 Mins
Aspect Ratio: 1:78.1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: Optional English and Spanish
The Film - out of
“As long as you keep believing it, the longer your stay will be…”
In 2006, a festival of horror films was created – sharing with eager horror fans independently produced genre movies that promised to chill them to their bones, scare them to death and entrance them, as the marketing goes, in a state of fear. After Dark Films brought together eight films that would likely not otherwise have found an audience. This ‘Horrorfest’ festival assembled little known or unheard of films that dealt with stories of ghosts and ghouls; the grim and gross. The 2007 Horrorfest sought to reignite the success of the first festival, by bringing to audiences a collection of 8 more films to die for. The films in the 2007 festival included tales of zombies, ghosts, strange creatures and the end of the world. The collection of 2007’s ‘8 Films To Die For’ include Nightmare Man, Unearthed, Tooth and Nail, Lake Dead, The Deaths of Ian Stone, Mulburry St. , Borderland and Crazy Eights.
To aid fertility, an unsuspecting young woman, Ellen (Blythe Metz) orders a fertility mask but gets a scary looking and quite possibly possessed mask of instead. After a terrifying encounter, Ellen suffers from nightmares that make her unstable, so much so that she must be committed for psychiatric help.. As she and her husband make the trek through the winding, forest adorned roads to the hospital, their car breaks down. When her husband heads off to get help, Ellen finds she is not alone and is chased by the Nightmare Man (the man in the scary mask that invades her dreams) into the woods until she comes across a house filled with vacationing teens. Together, they must figure out if the Nightmare Man is real and survive the night.
Nightmare Man is the camp entry in 2007’s Horrorfest. It must be said that this is by no means, good horror film or a good film at all. But that doesn’t mean it fails to entertain. It flows with a camp and silliness that, despite all my attempts to dislike, somehow managed to prod out of me more smiles, giggles and approving nods than it should ever deserve. It was written, co-produced and directed by Rolfe Kanefsky, a man who obviously decided that the value of having fun on set with next to no budget and actors who have likely never been in front of a camera before was more his style versus creating something original or scary. Nightmare Man tries to play around with horror movie conventions, turning some of the more familiar tried and true staples, like running out of gas in the middle of nowhere, cell phones that have run out of battery power and somewhat promiscuous teens picking the wrong weekend to get away from it all. But, as much as it thinks it is giving a wink of the eye to such expected landmarks of a horror flick, it doesn’t succeed.
The scares are relatively ineffective, and the film fails to even fall back on obvious ‘jump’ moments to fuel the fright. Most of the problems fall squarely at the feet of the script in the hands of such poor talent. Tiffany Shepis as Mia is a standout, but everyone from the crazy woman and her husband to the inhabitants of the cabin skewer the lines like a verbal kebob and are utterly unconvincing.
Despite its almost overwhelmingly low-caliber production values and ridiculous premise and payoff, the film manages to summon some enjoyment. Likely born from the ‘so bad its good’ idea, once the credits have rolled and the cringe on your face wanes as you reflect on the unusually likeable tripe you have just witnessed, the film’s pervasive silliness makes your grin. What is an abundance of ‘woman in peril’ bore, with a sexy, boob-filled thread running rampant at times, produces an inexplicable sense of delight.
Nightmare Man really should be written off as a low-budget blunder, with an absurd plotline that fails to set up the payoff with the energy it needs to survive. It should be discarded as a camp-fest that tries hard to be a horror romp with achingly bad performances, sub-par effects and a dull twist. But, even though that is all very, very true, something about it creeps into your brain and can’t help but be liked.
Nightmare Man is presented 16X9 and in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Shot on video, the image has a home movie quality to it but holds up quite well considering. Lights are a little too bright, but details in the darker scenes are better than expected. The image is clean and distortion free, it simply is in keeping with the films budget and the way it was shot.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound for Nightmare Man is surprising considering the source. The audio is clean and clear and even the surround effects, which are employed more to creep out than frighten, do rather well. The most effective use of surrounds comes when the young lady is trapped in the car being frightened by the Nightmare Man – the movement on the outside of the car provides the films only real moment of dread.
Commentary with Actor Tiffany Shepis, Director Rolfe Kanefsky and Producer Esther Goodstein - (5:00) – A mildly entertaining commentary track that provides a number of good details about the production, from casting to the attempts at creating a throwback to the 70’s and a not too serious tone. Tiffany Shepis is incredibly animated and active on the track and remains that way until the end.
Flubbing a Nightmare (Gag Reel) - (7:04) – What is mostly revealed here is the amateur nature of the production, and not from the funny moments (because there aren’t any) but from the inexperience permeating almost every second of these seven minutes.
Extended Scenes - (16:18) – Five scenes that pad existing scenes adding little of interest.
Stills Gallery - (5:00) – A slideshow of shots from the film and from the production.
Tiffany’s Behind The Scenes - (17:20) – A superfluous striptease set of clips set to a forgettable rock song opens up a behind the scenes peak from actress Tiffany Shepis’ (Mia) perspective.
Creating a Nightmare: The Making of. - (21:30) – Shots from during the production, presented somewhat playfully interspersed by sort of a video slideshow initially before it gets into some interesting behind the scenes footage. There are a quite few interesting moments here an there, particularly during the creation of Ellen’s face mask. All in all, this is perhaps more interesting than the film itself.
Miss Horrorfest Contest Webisodes - (19:19) – Split in to several chapters that you can select or choose a ‘play all’ feature, this quest to find and crown the next Miss Horrorfest comes off like the slew of annoying ‘reality’ show excess clogging up the airwaves (and now the internet). Basically a classless diversion and mostly irrelevant to the horror film proceedings.
Horror films can be so much better than this. While I was able to find some entertainment value out of the whole affair, I can’t say that any of it comes from the horror aspect. Nightmare Man will find only a select few out there that will take pleasure in what it has to offer, so only the truly curious or hard-up for something to do for an hour an a half need give this any thought.