Reviewed by D.W. Bostaph
Starring Alexander Shevchenko, Svyatoslav Iliyasov, Alexandra Batrumova
Directed by Andrey Iskanov
Distributed by Unearthed Films
Each and every one of us has a differing ability to see, feel, and sense this bubble of existence around us in vastly varying manners. This array of conscious/unconscious formation is attributed to the incalculable differences between any two minds on the planet. The only thing keeping reality at the stable norm we all seem to subscribe to is a general unspoken consensus about how it should be perceived. Our minds work in similar electronic manners, we all act in similar ways, so then we all must agree on what reality is.
Right? We all need to agree here. The universe depends on it.
Nails is a look at how one may go about creating a disturbance in the most crucial device to our perception of reality: the brain. This is a 60-minute dive down a rabbit hole that takes us visually away from what we have accepted as the world around us and shows us what it really could be.
An assassin has come home from a long day at work, and just like every other soul on the planet, all he wants to do is to escape the toils and turmoil of his job for a few fleeting hours. But the more he tries to ease his mind, the more his mind reminds him of the monster he is. Flashes of gruesome death and horrid inhumanity interrupt his peace. Relentless in their attack on his rest, the creeping visions haunt him into unrest, frustration, and pain. He is a monster, and there is no rest for the wicked.
Hearing about a man who drove a nail into his head and lived without any real side effects, the ailing assassin decides to do the same. Somehow he has come to the conclusion that if he attacks his mind, the keeper of the memories, he will be forgiven from his past sins with a blissful blind blankness.
The idea of trepanation is not a new one; even though in modern times there are individuals who experiment with it, the actual act of bludgeoning holes in people’s domes has been around as long as humans have been using tools. Skulls from some of the earliest people on the planet have been found with wide gaping holes in their cranial caps. Yet, instead of these looking like they were the act of some brutal life ending event, they appear to be the careful work of prehistoric surgeons attempting to "fix" some sort of wrong with the afflicted individual. The wounds in the prehistoric skulls show signs of healing, signaling that the people who received this treatment LIVED after its administration.
Perspective interjection: An insane caveman is held down by other cavemen who then whack a hole in his head, sometimes exposing his brain, and the recipient of this procedure survived. Anthropologists have deduced that trepanation was used to cure mental illnesses. They think the act began out of a need to release some sort of spirit from the skull. Makes sense. Hear voices, see things; it’s all in your head, so let’s make a window to let them out.
Personally, knowing that this was performed under such conditions, the plausibility of the film’s story becomes more believable. Instead of trying to free the nightmares within his head, the character in Nails tries a more militaristic approach; he mortars them. Driving each nail deeper and deeper into his grey matter, each time he does so, the camera is sure to shift its view of the world. Colors, focus, and shape change each time. Perceptive alteration is not just implied but shown. We get to take this voyage by the hand and walk with it. Nails is a drug/escapist film at heart, but where a lot of films show the reaction of the characters, or focus on the repercussions of the usage of the materials, Nails stays on course and allows us to travel on the roads with the subject at hand. It is an exploration, a voyage to where we cannot take our own minds. It recalls Aronofsky’s Pi and our own Andrew Kasch’s The Fall (review) in its unyielding exploratory nature.
Nails is a visual feast, exploring what the cybernetic fusion of human imagination, mechanical camera, and open exploratory eyes can create. Released by Unearthed Films, Nails follows the company’s brave attempt to unleash short, provocative films into the cinematic community. Nails follows in the footsteps of Unearthed's previous releases like Pinocchio, Rubber Lover, and Aftermath. All of these films belong in the collection of film fanatics, students, and cinematic aesthetics.
In keeping with aforementioned releases, Nails assaults the eyes with a concussive cascade as image upon image, thought and idea, music and motion move us through a philosophic journey into what may be right on the other side. WATCH OUT! Nails is a thinly veiled magic trick. The trip away from the world we know may not take us as far away as one may think. Mirrors, shadows, and sounds show us the truth behind it all, as horrifying as it may be.
Andrey Iskanov, director, writer, and producer of Nails, lends himself to the Unearthed DVD release with an interview that allows us to see a bit more of the cards he holds in his hand during the illusion. The obligatory "Making of.." lets us see the creation of the film, but I found myself just wanting to re-watch the film rather than sit through banal trivialities about its birth.
Andrey Iskanov definitely has something to say, and with Unearthed prepping the release of another Iskanov film, Visions of Suffering, we seem to be in for a steady diet of virtual vitamins for the head.
Russian Llanguage soundtrack with removable English subtitles
Making of Nails
Interviews with Andrey Iskanov
3 1/2 out of 5
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