There was every reason to believe that Nailed would be nothing more than another substandard, horror in da ‘hood piece of crap. The box art itself wasn’t all that compelling, and while the synopsis made is sound kinda/sorta interesting, I went in with expectations so low you would have thought Jean-Claude La Marre was the director. I mean for real, I was prepared to hate on this flick like you wouldn’t believe. But much to my amazement, Nailed turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

Kicking off with what appears to be the standard gangsta nonsense that defines so many ‘hood films, Nailed introduces the audience to Keller (Charles Porter) and Scott (Sam Saprong), a pair of small-time thugs on their way to make a drug run for their boss, Rafael (Ray Stoney). But what is quickly evident from the opening scenes is that the actors are all a cut above those you usually find in films of this nature, offering a glimmer of hope that Nailed won’t completely suck. Keller and Scott make their way across town with a bag full of dope, unaware that they’re being tailed by the cops. When the undercover bust goes bad, the hot lead flies, and Scott takes a round in the shoulder. Running for their lives, Keller and Scott break into a boarded-up house that appears to be abandoned. With Scott bleeding badly from his bullet wound, the criminals try to formulate a plan, but things take an unexpected turn when they hear a mournful groan coming from upstairs. Keller goes to investigate, only to discover a man with his faced wrapped in blood-soaked dirty bandages, moaning in pain, and tied to a bed. “Caring” for the man is Adam (Wilson Jermaine Heredia), an enigmatic man dressed in white whose friendly demeanor seems to hide a sinister intent. Keller forces Adam to help tend Scott’s wounds, as the two criminals wait for the cover of darkness to arrive so they sneak out of the house. But the more time they spend in the house, the stranger things become. First, Keller begins to have hallucinations, and it isn’t long before Scott starts seeing things that aren’t there as well. Meanwhile, Adam is manipulating the increasingly paranoid criminals, slowing turning them against each other. It isn’t long before both Keller and Scott are fighting to hold on to their sanity.

Moving at a quick pace, and relying on a genuinely creepy atmosphere and strong visual style, Nailed draws from a variety of influences, especially the new wave of disturbing Asian horror films. It wouldn’t be surprising to find out that everyone involved in Nailed had sat through multiple screenings of Japanese creepers like Ringu and Ju-on, as the film clearly has an aesthetic more influenced by what is going on in contemporary Asian horror, than most of the sorry crap here in the States. Starting out as a better-than-most urban drama, Nailed makes a seamless transition into a supernatural thriller. Die-hard horror fans most likely will figure out what is going on early into the second act, but that doesn’t diminish the film’s effectiveness. On the other hand, novice horror fans are likely to be left squirming, as well as shocked by the horrific turn of events that unfolds.

nailed03.jpgHaving watched more than my fair share of “urban” films and low budget horror flicks, I can’t tell you how surprised I was by Nailed. Both the urban ‘hood film and the horror movie are heavily exploited genres, often delved into by novice motherfuckers with surprisingly little talent, and no business making movies. Anyone who has seen crap like Zombiez knows what I’m talking about. And anyone who has seen some of that urban bullshit that lines the shelves of video stores also knows what I’m saying when I say that at some point I found it hard to believe Nailed was actually made by brothas. Not to diss the brothas runnin’ around out there with digital camcorders making “movies,” but a lot of those cats are so inept they probably miss the toilet when they take a dump. But Nailed actually gets more things right than it does wrong.

As fucked up as this may sound, at some point while I was sitting there watching Nailed, I started to become convinced that it had to have been made by white guys, because it was just too good. It didn’t have any of that ghetto-ass amateur shit that we see nearly every time we rent some flick starring black people we’ve never heard of. So, I wasn’t that surprised to find out that the film was actually written and directed by some white guys. What was really surprising about the film wasn’t even that it was shot in twelve days, and that it cost very little money to make. No, the big surprise was that the film was written and directed by a pair of Irish filmmakers, and the movie itself was shot primarily in Belfast (the details of which are explained in the bonus materials on the DVD). A horror flick in da ‘hood, made by some Irish cats in Belfast? Who would’ve ever thought?

Looking at the box art, it would be easy to mistake Nailed for some sort of Saw rip-off. But the reality is that Stephen McAnena and director Adrian O’Connell have crafted a film that is more consistently entertaining than Saw, and that never degenerates into an unintentional laugh riot of ham-acting and ridiculous camera tricks. There is actual intelligence and thought involved in the construction of the story and the development of the characters, and if you don’t pay attention—even to the opening title sequence—you will miss crucial story elements. Credit for the success of the film must also go to actors Porter, Saprong and Heredia (all of whom also co-produced the film), for what pretty much amounts to a three-man show. Seldom do low budget films have performances as solid as those delivered by this trio of actors that are not that well-known.

Nailed is clearly not for everyone, but fans of creepy, disturbing horror films should be thoroughly entertained. Being one of those fans of horror, I know what it is like to take a chance on a film, and even with low expectations still be monumentally disappointed. Which is what makes Nailed such a treat. Not only is it better than what you would expect it to be, it’s actually a solid film on top of that. You can’t ask for much more than that.

Entertaining and effectively creepy, Nailed is worth watching, and definitely worth the price of rental. Hardcore horror fans may want to consider buying it, but at the very least should make sure they watch it.


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