After suffering a near-fatal accident whilst running, Dana (Shauna MacDonald, The Descent 1&2) is left paralysed in hospital with only an automated voice program to communicate. The accident not only puts a strain on Dana’s marriage to Steve (Steve Wall, The Vikings) but she soon believes that she is being haunted by serial killer and former hospital employee Eric Nilsson (Richard Foster-King, It Never Sleeps).
With Horror becoming a mainstream affair in recent years, it’s always a pleasant surprise when interesting ideas surface in the genre. In this case, Nails succeeds as our protagonist Dana faces varying degrees of challenges such as being bed ridden with only a laptop to communicate whilst facing the ghoulish antagonist Nails. This spares the audiences from the cliched nature of female lead horrors, having them run endlessly around corridors of spooky old houses.
The setting of the film enhances this positive too, as in a hospital for paralysed patients, one would assume that care is available 24/7. In Nails we are gifted with the supporting role of Trevor (Ross Noble) who delivers us with a welcome touch of realism and comedic relief. However, that’s not to say that this and this alone saves the film from diving into those all too familiar horror tropes that we have come to loath.
For starters, revealing the monster at an early stage, especially in a film with one core antagonist, is incredible disappointing the see. A more effective measure would to have had our creepy killer lurking out of shot until the final showdown to keep the audiences on their toes with only Dana’s reactions to paint a terrifying picture of what was in the dark. Exposition and the tragic backstory of our monster is also panned off too easily with a throwaway flashback scene that, in a later part, was proved to be highly inadequate. As for this padding, it’s something that we see all too often in these types of horror films.
The film also draws a lot from other successful horror franchises such as Paranormal Activity with security footage and cameras used to try and add that extra layer of tension. Unfortunately this is never really used to the story’s advantage other than to try and prove that it’s all in Dana’s head. As for the looming twist that can be seen a mile off and is ever present in horror films today, this one really falls flat as the posters are figuratively strewn across the walls of the hospital.
With predictable jump scares loitering the 85 minute runtime, the best scares come towards the final act of the film with Nails being allowed to really show the supporting cast what he is made off. It is clear to see that director Dennis Bartok had some sound ideas for the story but ultimately fell so easily into the horror comfort zone to ensure that the core audiences leaves the cinema with a few spooks for their money.
Nails is released on June 16th.