I went to see "Nightmare Man" with my father, and about halfway through, I actually had to lean towards his ear and apologize to him. I wasn't sorry for the time we were spending together, but I sure as hell was sorry for the film we had to sit through. The number of levels this movie sucks on is amazing: it's unoriginal, predictable, badly scripted, badly acted, miscast, uneven, unimaginative, and--perhaps worst of all--not at all scary. This movie had all the charisma of a direct to video shocker produced and filmed by amateurs, and that's an insult to amateurs since they probably could do a much better job. I don't know who thought it was a good idea to make this film, but whoever it is needs to see more movies and see them frequently; anyone appreciative of the cinematic arts would never let their own film project stoop to this level.
"Nightmare Man" opens with a dream sequence, in which a woman named Ellen (Blythe Metz) is stalked by a demon wearing a green devil mask (which she bought thinking it was symbolic of fertility). She runs through her darkened house, clad in only her bathrobe, while her Italian husband, William (Luciano Szafir), is off trying to restore the power. Just as the demon is about to catch her, she awakens in the passenger seat of her husband's car, after which she panics because she's late in taking her medication. William is driving Ellen to a mental institution because she's been having frequent, disturbing dreams, and she's convinced that the demon chasing her--the Nightmare Man--is real. She's also convinced that no one, not even doctors, will be able to help her. All she has is her pills to keep herself under control, which is interesting since they bear a striking resemblance to Tic Tacs.
Ellen and William's drive leads them into the woods, and it's there that the car runs out of gas. Stranded and without a working cell phone, William opts to walk back to a far away gas station for help. Ellen, of course, stays in the car. By the time it gets dark, her fears begin to take hold, and she can't help but feel that someone is out in the woods, waiting for her. And as it turns out, someone is in the woods. Clad in the green fertility mask, the Nightmare Man chases Ellen through the woods; he even catches her a few times, which makes me wonder how she managed to avoid being killed.
Meanwhile, at a cabin nestled deep in the woods, we meet four young characters: Jack (James Ferris); his fiancée, Trinity (Hanna Putnam); Mia (Tiffany Shepis); and her boyfriend, Ed (Jack Sway). These characters are introduced playing Erotic Truth or Dare, and from that alone, you should have a pretty good idea of what they represent. This is especially true of Mia, whose foulmouthed, oversexed, and sarcastic, even when the occasion doesn't call for it. When they think they hear a noise from the woods, Mia grabs her crossbow and steps outside, not seeming to care that she's wearing nothing but lacy black underwear and a bra. To borrow a phrase from Dr. Seuss, she has all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile.
And that's when Ellen finds them. Lost, alone, and desperate for help, Ellen rants and raves about the evil that's out there, about how the Nightmare Man has actually escaped from inside of her and become real. Of course, no one believes her until he actually starts attacking. Thus begins the slasher portion of the film, the monotony of which is broken when Ellen realizes that she's lost her pills. Yes, we all know how it feels to not have medication around when we need it--sitting in the theater, I wanted an aspirin, but silly me, I left them all at home. Next time I'll know better.
Or maybe I won't. Sometimes, you don't know just how bad a movie will be before you see it; all you can do is go into it cold and hope for the best. That was certainly the case with "Nightmare Man." Had I known I would be watching something this pitiful, something this unbelievably ill conceived ... but why dwell on what I had no control over? That's just negative thinking, and as Mia screams at Ellen, "I want you to say something positive! Tell a story that begins with `Once upon a time,' and ends with, `Happily ever after'!" Sound advice, wouldn't you say? And why not? Mia holds a shotgun as she says this while Ellen is bound to a sofa by her wrists and ankles.
That moment paves the way for the final fifteen minutes, which goes in such a different direction that it seemed to belong in another movie. But considering the skill level of the filmmakers, this should come as no surprise at all. "Nightmare Man" functions at the same level as a carnival funhouse, full of dark corridors, random spooky noises, and pop out scares so unconvincing that we laugh instead of scream. I'm tempted to recommend this film as a parody, but since it was actually taking itself seriously, I know that would be the wrong thing to do. This isn't a spoof--it's only a bad movie starring untalented actors and made by untalented filmmakers.