Director Prano Bailey-Bond’s thrilling horror short Nasty recalls the heady days when many direct-to-video horror videocassettes delivered nasty shocks and startling gore, thrilling certain demographics of horror hounds while outraging the uninitiated. This latter attitude plays a “What if?” part in Nasty, a stylish, gripping short that packs a lot of impact into its 15-minute running time.
Nasty is set in the early 1980s, during the United Kingdom’s “video nasty” days, when many films distributed on videocassette were criticized by the press and religious groups, and often heavily censored by local jurisdictions. Young Doug (Albie Marber) awakens one morning and his mother Carol (Madeliene Hutchins) asks him if he has seen his father (James Cutler) yet. He hasn’t, and Carol becomes increasingly worried. The newscast on their car radio reports about a sudden wave of missing people – most of whom are men – in the local area, while a newspaper ties a possible link between the disappearances and the purveyor of a video shop.
Later, Doug finds his father’s hidden stash of video nasties in the garage. He becomes fascinated with them. Carol reacts strongly in the opposite direction. These videocassettes, however, seem to indeed provide some clue as to the disappearance of his father.
The cast does a fine job of inhabiting their characters with a sense of urgency, and showing how Doug and Carol are being pulled in opposite directions during the father’s disappearance. Albie Marber invests Doug with confusion and determination, while Madeliene Hutchins brings Carol to life with a sense of anguish and loss.
Director Prano Bailey-Bond does a marvelous job with Anthony Fletcher’s screenplay. She spotlights the drama within this fracturing family, which heightens the horror on display. Bond uses a variety of styles to set ominous tones of foreboding, such as using lingering shots of a foggy forest near the home to eerie effect, while at other times using grainy effects with varying degrees of color saturation techniques, along with static, to provide an authentic feeling of the videocassette-viewing experience. Annika Summerson’s crackerjack cinematography, Flaura Atkinson’s seamless editing, and the stellar effort by the visual effects department help round out this unique approach, as do the score from David Gawthorpe and Max Jung, and Tim Harrison and crew’s sound design. Liam Doyle and Dan Martin also deserve recognition for their grisly special effects, along with Jess Cheetham and Ruth Pease for their makeup work.
Nothing is played for laughs in Nasty, yet it is sure to bring smiles to the faces of horror film fans. Some vintage-style videocassette box art (designed by White Dolemite), the nostalgic setting, and the film’s ending are a few reasons reasons why.
Prano Bailey-Bond’s (www.pranobaileybond.com) Nasty has won several Best Short/Picture and Best Director prizes at various film festivals, including the Best Short Film at last month’s Stranger With My Face International Film Festival in Tasmania. Hopes are high that it might become a feature-length film, and I certainly see enough potential in its story and execution as a short to warrant seeing more of this remarkable world.
Nasty: (4.5 / 5)