A writer suffering from agoraphobia rents an isolated house so she can concentrate on her writing. She doesn't know that the house is a former brothel, and is inhabited by the ghosts of dead prostitutes.
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Gothic mystery writer Lauren Cochran leaves New York to move into an eerie Victorian mansion, once a brothel haunted by the ghost of a madam Florinda Costello. The ex-brothel is the scene of several gore killings, witnessed by Lauren. With John Carradine. Written by
Confounding and atmospheric yet at times terribly awkward
"The Nesting" follows Lauren Cochran, a New York City novelist who begins suffering from crippling agoraphobia. She decides to eliminate the problem by relocating to a remote, rundown mansion upstate for solitude and an opportunity to work on a book; things don't quite go as planned though when it's discovered that the house was a former brothel where multiple prostitutes disappeared fifty years prior.
I had never heard of this film and came across a review of it online; I was surprised how under the radar the film is, particularly that in my decades-long existence as a horror fan, I'd never crossed paths with it. It is a strange filmin some ways, it's very sophisticated and thematically interesting, and yet at times it is also terribly awkward, poorly scripted, and borderline tedious.
So, what's the attraction here? "The Nesting," in spite of some fundamental problems, establishes an atmospheric glaze over itself that is absolutely flummoxing. The cinematography is surprisingly lush for this type of film, and the location and setting helps bolster the utterly strange vibes of the picture. Some of its best moments hands down are the protagonist's encounters with the ghostly prostitutes; the apparitions appear and disappear from the mise-en-scène as if living characters passing through a room, and their presentation in this way is startling and strangely terrifying. The fact that the majority of the horror scenes here occur in daylight is also another unusual feature of the picture.
As I said before, there are some problems with the film, the first being that it seems to toe the line between haunted house film and full-blown psychological horror; there are even moments where it appears to be taking on tenets of a slasher film. This is not to say that a film can't cross-reference genres, but the script here just doesn't manage to do so gracefully. The film is also at times awkwardly edited, which is where some of its budget limitations seem to visibly crop up, and the chemistry between some of the actors is a bit off key. Robin Groves is decent as the lead, although her character is strangely written to begin with. John Carradine shows up as the plutocratic owner of the home, while Gloria Grahame appears in her final screen role as the madame of the bygone brothel.
The film's conclusion is quite frankly baffling, and I was surprised to see it end as it did, as the film leads the viewer to believe they will be treated with some sort of conceivable resolution. "The Nesting" ardently resists this, and leaves the viewer with an uncomfortable ambiguity that is atypical of this kind of picture. All in all, I found this film strangely fixating and visually eerie in spite of its hodgepodge script and uneven performances. In the greater scheme, it is a marginal entry in the genre, though I must admit there is something confounding and creepy about it on a base level. Worth a look. 6/10.
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