Directed by Patrick Rea
Tornadoes are scheduled to hit Kansas, only they are bringing worse than flying monkeys or a wicked witch this time around. Enter Nailbiter, from SenoReality Pictures, and get ready to chomp on your fingernails!
While grieving over her husband serving in the military overseas, young mother Janet is struggling with alcoholism but on the verge of kicking the habit. Good news arrives when she learns that her husband is coming home to her and their three children (played by Meg Saricks, Emily Boresow and Sally Spurgeon) and she will make sure that they will all be at the airport to meet him no matter the cost. Even if that means her and the kids risking the tornado onslaught to do so.
When a tornado forces them out of their car en route to their reunion, they think they find safety in the basement of a seemingly abandoned house while the storm plummets the ground above. The coast appears clear until they are unable to exit via the outside basement door and soon realize they have been purposely trapped down there. Their peril worsens when the youngest of the clan is attacked by some unseen creature as she tries to slide out of the miniscule basement window and they learn that the house is not abandoned after all when they hear footsteps from the floor above them.
It seems that the house's elderly owner, Mrs. Shurman (Joicie Appell), is hiding a secret of a deadly matter on her property. Her son is the local Sheriff (Mark Ridgway) and in on her game, so the local authorities will not be able to help them. The eldest daughter constantly text updates to their dad for help, but is all for naught since he is still in flight. One of the creatures has access in and out of the cellar, so the girls must band together in order to escape and survive, but the odds are highly stacked against them.
Nailbiter is a claustrophobic horror flick that practices the art of "seeing less is more" until the thrilling finale. It takes some time to get going, but the time is wisely spent to firmly establish the characters and makes you care for each of them as their plight worsens while each minute passes. You think you know what exactly is going on, even with the constant hints to the who's and what's given by Shurman and the Sheriff throughout the running time, but you, like the characters, have no idea of what they are up against until it is too late.
Writer/Director Patrick Rea brings us a sort-of Howling for the new generation. Direction-wise, he creates extreme tension that lasts throughout the film once the girls hit the cellar and the effects are also excellent overall. We are treated to some impressive CGI for the storm sequences and some of the creature effects, but still get some prosthetic work thrown in for good measure. The acting is pretty top notch considering that the lead cast mainly consists of young actresses and helps strengthen the feel of the movie.
The film's plot is a unique spin on an old tale, but never leaves you feeling that the content is too contrived or that you have seen this story several times before. Meanwhile, Rea refuses to play it safe when it comes to who lives or dies. This kind of in-your-face and pull no punches approach develops a real sense of shock and fear due to the story's unpredictability and will make your jaw drop by the time the credits hit. If anything, the ending will leave you more than geared up to see a much needed follow up if Rea is heading in that direction.
|4 out of 5 Creeper Santas|