Nightmare Man (2006) Review

7 out of 10 Skulls
Written by: jmh314   

Nightmares and horror movies are like peanut butter & jelly, they just go together wonderfully. So what happens when you take a horror film and make it about a girls nightmares that seemingly come to fruition? What happens is you get Nightmare Man, one of After Dark Horrorfest 2007's "8 Films to Die For." The title nightmare man may not be the most original, but the whole movie was never meant to be original. It was meant to be a campy, cheese-filled B movie with some scares, a little blood, a few laughs, and plenty of gratuitous skin. For the most part Nightmare Man succeeds in accomplishing a certain "fun-factor" despite plenty of typical horror movie clichés.

Nightmare Man consists of two parallel stories that will intersect into one. The first part of the story involves old friends(and apparently old lovers) Mia and Trinity as they go on a couples weekend with the current men in their lives. Trinity is going to get married soon so Mia wanted one last fun weekend away. They head to Mia's little cottage in the dense woods and plan to have a wild alcohol and sex fueled weekend.

We also see Ellen and her husband William. The two are having trouble making a baby, so Ellen orders an ancient fertility mask. It is an ugly demonic looking mask, so she believes she was sent the wrong one. Shortly after it arrives, Ellen begins to have hallucinations of a killer wearing this same mask haunting her. We soon see Ellen get attacked by this man in her own home and just when she is about to be killer, she wakes up to find herself in the car with her husband.

It turns out she was dreaming and this figure has become constant in her head. She calls him the Nightmare Man since he occupies her nightmares. Because of the trouble these having been causing her, we learn her husband is driving her to the local mental institution to get some much needed help. She is reluctant to go as she is on medications and believes they are working to force Nightmare Man out of her head.

Unfortunately for Ellen, William forgot to fill the car with gas. He leaves her by herself as he walks 10 plus miles to the nearest gas station. Ellen soon begins to have visions of the Nightmare Man outside the car, so she gets out of the car and makes a run for it through the woods. The Nightmare Man is after her and is able to injure her. As she is slowing down from the injury, he catches her right outside a mysterious cottage in the woods.

Inside this cabin are Mia and Trinity, who are engrossed in a game of "erotic" truth or dare when they hear screams outside. They head outside and find Ellen who is hurt and bleeding. They bring her into the cottage and she tells them of the killer after her. The group soon calls Ellen's husband William who explains his wife is crazy and there is no one after her. He said she is making it up and that the wounds are probably self inflicted. Mia & company don't know who to believe, that is until they encounter the Nightmare Man in the woods. He is real and proves that Ellen isn't crazy....or is she? As the group prepares to fight to survive it soon becomes apparent that nothing is as crystal clear as it may seem. Is the Nightmare Man real or is there something else more evil going on?

It is apparent that Nightmare Man is not a movie you don't need to take seriously. Some of the plot is really cheesy, but in that good 80's campy way. There are a few twists here and there that are interesting but the big twist at the end seemed like a bit of a reach. While it unravels a little because of the final section becoming slightly absurd, you must applaud Nightmare Man for not taking the "easy way" out. This film could have easily played the ending safe but took a chance on it's B-film schlock filled premise. While not entirely rewarding at the end, it still is a lot of fun getting to that point.

Acting is what you would expect from such a campy film. Blythe Metz who plays Ellen lays on the hammy acting for her possibly insane character. While not entirely bad, there are some point where you just get tired of her constant screaming and crying. And how man times can one person yell "No!" during a film, cause she may have done it about 50 times or more. The standout role is beautiful Tiffany Shepis who plays the sexy yet sagacious Mia. She's not the typical whiny girl character, she turns into a full fledge hardcore chick when she busts out the hunting weapons: a crossbow and high-powered rifle. And it doesn't hurt that she was running around with the crossbow in a black lacy bra and underwear with shin-high boots. Never has a deadly crossbow seemed so sexy.

Director Rolfe Kanefsky's scenes all seemed to be fairly crisp in filming. Some of the shots in the wood were your standard "killer chasing helpless victim" type scenes but he is able to make it look decent while doing so. The music accompanies the cinematography real well and helps build up some decent tension. I wish a little more money could have been used because the Nightmare Man mask sometimes appeared to be flimsy rubber when it was supposed to be wooden. And the make-up work that accompanies the ending section is unfortunately pretty second rate. It looked like cheesy make-up anyone could have done, but this film isntmeant to win awards with it's make-up and costume work.

Rolfe Kanefsky does a good job in keeping this film from being too serious. This is a film meant to be entertaining for what it is and I think his vision for it succeeded. There were some good kills with grungy gore and some fairly funny moments. He keeps things campy by not being afraid to have his ladies show some skin and even works in an interestingly long fake orgasm sequence. Having two different characters run round covered in blood while in their bras or less helps keep the film lighthearted and fun.

Overall of the films I have so far seen at this years After Dark Horrorfest, Nightmare Man is the definite campy horror film. A simple story line, often cheesy plot clichés, and some decent gore and nudity keep this film fun and fresh. It has it's flaws as any campy B-movie does but there is enough enjoyment to be found in Nightmare Man to forget about the flimsiness of some of it's plot ideas. Rolfe Kanefsky ultimately seems to have tried to put together a film that you don't have to think too hard about and just can sit back and enjoy. Sure there were many times I wanted to yell to the characters "why are you doing that?" but I just had to shrug it off and enjoy the result of their dumb mistakes. In the end I walked out with enough nudity, gore, and fun to realize Nightmare Man may not be the best or most original but it was enjoyable enough to leave feeling satisfied.
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