Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

‘Nailed’ is certainly an odd little film with an odd heritage as it is an urban horror flick that we are told was filmed in Ireland (?), pretending to be Los Angeles and stars a pair of Black actors both of whom hail from England.  As you can probably tell from the box cover of this Direct-To-Video joint that they too are trying for that much desired ‘Saw’ dollar, but ‘Nailed’ owes more to the ‘Angel Heart’s’ and the ‘Exorcists’ of the world of film than it owes to ‘Saw’, but since aping ‘Saw’ covers are the de rigueur of the DTV world, then ‘Saw’ it is.

Keller (Charles Porter) and Scott (Sam Sarpong) are a couple street thugs on their way to meet big time criminal Rafael (Ray Stoney) at his strip club for a deal that’s going down.  Keller is one uptight cat and Scott is one silly dude whose silliness serves only to make Keller more uptight.  At the club, Rafael, sitting with his girl Sapphire (Samantha Mumba), are reviewing the work of couple of potential employees, and Rafael is none too happy to see the silly Scott who for some reason Keller didn’t inform this equally uptight criminal that he was bringing Scott in on the deal.  Regardless, Rafael slides Keller the contraband and the two thugs are off to make the deal, albeit with every single cop in L.A. unknowingly on there tail.  The deal goes bad, cops get shot, Scott gets shot, they are on the run, they duck into a boarded up house, which as it turns out was not the best idea.

Right away our duo knows something is wrong when Keller finds a man all bloodied up in bandages strapped to a bed and moaning his ass off.  He is being cared for by the rather bizarre Adam (Wilson Jermaine Heredia) who smiles, looks terminally sleepy and talks in riddles.  Both Scott and Keller are starting trip in this house with snakes appearing and reappearing, a black version of Samara from ‘The Ring’ making an

occasional appearance, pools of blood forming in sinks and the undying stench from this clown in the bed.  Of course leaving could be an option but damn if every single cop in Ireland… errr… Los Angeles isn’t looking for these two, so they’re pretty much stuck hallucinating stuff in this wretched hell hole manned by the little weird dude dressed in white.  But as it turns out it is no accident that our pair ended up at this place, and why they are there and what the hell ‘Nailed’ stands for, I’m afraid you’re going to have watch for yourself.

From the outset of ‘Nailed’ it is fairly obvious that is a low budget, shot on digital video affair, though they did have enough cash to get Samantha Mumba to say ‘what do you want me to do with these other two bitches?’  But don’t let the low budgetness of ‘Nailed’ completely keep you away from watching this little supernatural thriller, as it did have a few things working in its favor.  Director Adrian O’Connell has a good feel of what to do behind the camera and manages pull some very nicely framed shots into his film, though the cinematography left a little to be desired as it seemed they used a lot of natural light, which Digital Video historically doesn’t like a whole hell of a lot.  Both leads were pretty good in this movie with Charles Porter doing the best work of the principles, but it seemed that the best actor of the crew was actually Ray Stoney who was completely believable in his brief stint as the drug dealing Rafael and probably should have received more screen time than he got.  And it would have been nice to see more of the lovely Samantha Mumba, but it looks like she was simply doing her boyfriend, Charles Porter, a favor by being in his movie.  The film could have used some tighter editing and there were a few long scenes where not much was going that could have been shortened or eliminated all together, such as Adam wrapping Scott’s wounds for what seemed to be eternity, or another scene where Keller was reaching for the bag of money and we get these repeated shots of Keller and the bag of loot, Keller and the bag, Keller and the bag...  I get it already, he’s reaching for the bag.

The narrative that frames ‘Nailed’ starts out interesting enough, though director Adrian O’Connell seems more adept at shooting action than claustrophobic horror as the chase scenes he designed between the thugs and the cops were very well done, especially considering the budget limitations.  But after a while the story seemed to be going in circles.  We know where the film wants to go and we can understand and make sense of the desired conclusion, but it seemed to have trouble actually getting there.  The conclusion itself may bring up more questions than it answers, but that’s not a problem for me since I don’t need everything tied up in a nice neat bow.  I’m talking to you Peter Jackson! 

‘Nailed’ is an admirable effort by director Adrian O’Connell and his cast who despite the obvious limitations were able to create a compelling psychological drama.  I look forward to seeing more of their work in the future.

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