The not-very-mysterious disappearance of a child and the violent death of his father at the hands of something monstrous form the core of Nix, a structurally ambitious but performatively weak offering from prolific Sharknado director Anthony C Ferrante. Jumping back and forth in time, it deals with the loss of young Tessa (Angelina Karo) and the subsequent breakdown of her family, which includes a mother who can’t let go (last played by Dee Wallace of ET – The Extra-Terrestrial Celebrity); brother Lucas, who becomes a drug addict (Skyler Caleb); annoying normal brother Jack, who by default is the hero (James Zimbardi); and drug addict’s young daughter Zoey (Niesha Renee Guilbot). As they grapple with each other’s remaining ability to cope, Jack tries to protect Zoey and unravel secrets from the past.
It all seems to hinge on a strange Creature From The Black Lagoon-style beast that inhabits a lake in a nearby forest but also makes appearances in the family home, causing a serious moisture problem in the basement (which no one seems inclined to to deal with, despite the fact that it will probably lead to the rotting of the foundation) and which haunts the fragile Lucas. Jack is at his wit’s end trying to provide support for the mental health of his loved ones and consequently feels unable to embark on a relationship with devoted friend Liz (Angie Teodora Dick). The supernatural and psychological narratives intertwine in an ambitious way that offers interesting possibilities but which Ferrante ultimately lacks the ability to realize.
There are some good bits of work here. A particularly effective choice involves a shift in focus that makes the basement, huge and scary when Jack and his siblings are young, seem small and unremarkable when he enters it as an adult. There’s a charismatic turn from Tracy Pfau as an old woman who lives near the lake and may or may not know something about the monster. Poor lighting, generally poor acting, and jerky editing let the rest down, however, and that’s not helped by material that looks naughty to no particular end, such as the portrayal of the ex-girlfriend of Lucas. While her addiction receives a certain degree of sympathy, hers is relentlessly monstrated and she is treated as a failure for not being able to care for her child while Lucas does not get the same level of approval.
With the exception of Liz and the two underdeveloped little girls, the female characters are generally roughed up here, but the males aren’t much better off in terms of substance or depth. Ferrante probably hopes no one notices because we’ll all be too distracted by the monster, a common mistake in horror – the best-designed monsters lose their edge if we don’t care about the people they’re after. This one looks pretty good for a low-budget effort, and Ferrante has the sense not to overdo it, but the much scarier overtones of the story he builds around it are wasted in an awkwardly handled finale.
Much is made of the fact that “nix”, which Lucas scribbles during a bad episode and which comes to be treated as the name of the monster, is a word of foreign origin (a variant of the German “nichts”) and means “nothing”. ‘. All sorts of nonsense is attached to this idea, but what is best understood as meaning is that there is nothing to see here. To advance.
Reviewed on: Oct 29, 2022