Saturday, July 5, 2014

THE NEST (2014)

THE NEST (2014) (UR) Dir. David Cronenberg
9 mins.
The Nest is a short mini-film that David Cronenberg made exclusively for the EYE Film Institute in Amsterdam, which is hosting a gallery and retrospective of the director's works. It was filmed using a GoPro camera, in a single continuous take, and is from Cronenberg's own first person perspective. The director plays an alleged surgeon, most likely of the illegal variety, as he interrogates a visibly distraught topless woman who desires to remove her left breast.

It is not clear if the woman is insane, or if Cronenberg's character is truly a surgeon, a psychiatrist, or a charlatan. Nor is it clear if the ailment she complains of is an authentic condition or a product of her unstable imagination. See, the woman is convinced that her left breast is infested with insects. From a psychological standpoint, it is interesting to note that it is the LEFT breast; mirroring, yet updating the antiquated belief that the left hand, or sinistra, is an instrument of evil.

This nine minute, low budget experiment hints at a return of the director to the subgenre that made him a household name in the underground (and briefly, the mainstream with 1986's The Fly), and that is body horror. Fans have been clamoring for him to revisit his roots, as most of his output of late has been more dramatic in tone (i.e. A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, M. Butterfly, and A Dangerous Method). Not that these movies aren't good--they are--but because no director can make us feel like fleshly and vulnerable humanoid slugs quite like the maestro himself.

Unfortunately, The Nest is not a return to form, but is, hopefully, a hint of things that may come. The short is a little boring at worst (even with a quick running time), and suffers from dodgy acting, mostly on the part of Cronenberg himself. However the concept, in and of itself, and the back-of-the-garage appearance of the "surgery" room works to the film's advantage. As the conversation between the woman and the doctor escalates (through the use of a stethoscope he confirms he can hear a buzzing, like that of a wasp), there is a tangible sense of dread that builds... but this crescendo is abandoned in an abrupt and anticlimactic ending that provides no real explanation or closure to the premise.

In a perfect world (at least for me), at the nine minute mark the film would have cut to a scalpel as it effortlessly breaks through the fatty tissue of the contentious tit, and to the horror of a doubtful (and likely confused) audience, a gaggle of slimy, insectoid vermin crawl out. That would have been too good for us. Perhaps in the future, the perverse king will reclaim his throne, but not now.

Though doubtful that Cronenberg will pursue this story any further, it would be nice to see this concept fleshed out into a full length feature, with a decent budget and better production values. Sow doubt into the audience; have them believe the woman is a hallucinating psychotic, to the extent that when the nest is proven to be a very real and life-threatening phenomenon, it shocks the viewer in a wonderfully graphic manner. After all, internal insect infestation is a horrifying concept, and quintessentially Cronenbergian.

I would recommend this movie to die-hard Cronenberg fans only. Others will likely be left scratching their heads. It's on YouTube, but supposedly for a limited time (somehow I doubt it, though). 4/10

1 comment:

  1. Hi there. I posted about this too, and although I think I might have enjoyed it a bit more than you, I too wish it'd cut to a little bit of gore before the end. Still any new Cronenberg is a good thing in my book.