Nesting, The (1981)

Author: Brett Gallman
Submitted by: Brett Gallman   Date : 2011-07-11 08:56

Written by: Daria Price, Armand Weston
Directed by: Armand Weston
Starring: Robin Groves, John Carradine, and Gloria Grahame

Reviewed by: Brett G.

The terror that hides inside your mind.

Moving into a haunted house is always a bad idea, but The Nesting makes it abundantly clear that itís even worse to move into a haunted whorehouse. If said whorehouse is being rented out by a creaky old John Carradine, maybe all of your alarms should be going off. And did I mention this house of ill repute is situated near a swamp out in the middle of nowhere? In any sort of reality, this would be a tough sell for the best real estate agent.

Lauren Cochran (Robin Groves) is a New York writer oblivious to these facts; an agoraphobe who struggles to leave the house, she inexplicably is drawn to an abandoned old mansion out in the country. Though she claims to have never been there before, sheís managed to describe the house perfectly in her latest book. Her curiosity is suitably piqued, so she decides to rent the place out, and weird things start to happen--sheís haunted by visions of a mysterious woman in red, and her dreams become increasingly bizarre. The house, of course, holds many secrets, and unlocking them produces deadly results.

A supernatural slow-burn, The Nesting is primarily an atmospheric picture that doesnít do terribly much to draw you in for the first twenty minutes or so. Though the decrepit house and the surrounding areas are nicely ambient, the film seems to be going nowhere particularly interesting for a while. Then the spooky stuff sets in, with some of it being a little startling (an impromptu visit by Laurenís psychologist ends poorly for the guyís head in one particularly memorable sequence). Thereís enough typical haunted house parlor tricks and gore effects to keep one occupied while the film holds its secretive cards close to its vest; that mystery is also just interesting enough to hold interest all the way through, even though the film does sag a bit once a ton of exposition begins to be dumped. But even when that happens, it doesnít come without an unexpected car chase sequence that culminates in the filmís infamous hand-scythe bit, which is a great gag.

Our main character is terrified to go even go outside, so Groves is reasonably fraught and frantic the entire time (and maybe a little annoying); sheís given no good reason to want to leave her house, either, as sheís assaulted and nearly raped no less than twice in the movie. The small town she moves to is inhabited by plenty of sleazebags, save for Carradineís grandson (Michael David Lally), who may or may not be wrapped up in the houseís sordid history. Iím not quite sure what the point of Christopher Loomisís character is; heís there as Laurenís moral support, then basically disappears. In addition to Carradine, another old Hollywood star pops up in the form of Gloria Grahame; she spends her final screen appearance as the main ghost, meaning she just sort of vapidly walks around and looks scary. Carradine is only on screen for maybe three scenes, including one long, pivotal exposition dump that drags.

The Nesting sort of drags in general; itís certainly too long at 103 minutes and is wildly uneven. When it wants to be a straight-up haunted house horror show, it works well; the score is definitely a high point when the film is in this mode, as the frenzied music shrieks to create tension and mood. I suppose the main problem is that it just doesnít want to be that type of film enough. Instead, director Weston (who spent much of his career doing porn) lets the narrative meander too much before it veers right off the rails in the end. Really, a film about vengeful hookers shouldnít feel so dull (the film also misses out on what would be a morbidly sick twist as well, which does it no favors).

A few weeks back, a bunch of horror websites did a retrospective on the year 1981, and no one mentioned The Nesting. I thought this was due to the fact that itís been difficult to track down for years, but itís really just an uneventful movie with the exception of a couple of cool scenes. But hey, itís not so hard to see anymore thanks to Blue Underground, who just released it to DVD and Blu-ray; the standard def offering has a nice anamorphic transfer taken from a re-mastered negative. The DTS 6.1 ES soundtrack is surprisingly robust and scatters the score around to all of your speakers. Special features include deleted and extended scenes, theatrical trailers, TV spots, and a poster and still gallery. Itís nice to see Blue Underground still producing fine work, even if the film itself is a bit lackluster; the catalog horror well has run a bit dry as of late, and those hoping to be completely quenched will have to keep searching. Rent it!

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