aka THE BEWAILING
Directed by James Suttles
Screened at Grimmfest May Madness Virtual Film Festival 2021
A mother struggles to deal with her daughter’s separation anxiety issues but what she doesn’t realise is the young girl has been taken over by a parasitic bug that has intentions on all the family.
Creepy-crawly horror THE NEST isn’t shy about where it wants to take the viewer. The poster itself is self-explanatory about its intentions and the trailer pretty much gives the entire film away but what would you do if those you loved changed before your eyes and how would you prevent yourself from ending up the same way?
When we’re first introduced to the family in THE NEST, they’re not in a good place. They’ve had to relocate due to financial difficulty as Beth has lost her much-loved teaching job through her own struggles with drug abuse. This has had a knock-on effect on her family, putting strain on her marriage to Jack and exposing Meg to to trauma she shouldn’t have to deal with. Meg’s already having a tough time, resulting in her seeing the school councillor for assistance, but once she brings home Ricky the teddy bear from a yard sale, her condition worsens. Unbeknown to her family, Ricky hides a terrible secret inside his plush belly – a parasitic creature that’s ready to take over anyone its presented to. A flash of the family that lived in the house holding the yard sale indicates what is in store for Meg and those around her but ultimately it’s Beth who’s the target. After all, every nest needs its mother, a queen, and Meg needs her mother more than ever.
Sarah Navratil effectively plays weary mother Beth as she struggles to cope with her daughter and husband’s needs. Determined to turn her life around and make it work after having battled through addiction, you can see how the torment is draining her as Meg (Maple Suttles), Jack (Kevin Patrick Murphy) and family friend Marissa (Dee Wallace) gaslight her into thinking she’s going mad and hallucinating. Even after coming face-to-face with the parasitic creature living inside Ricky the bear, she’s accused of being delusional, with a head injury only making matters worse. Pills, her achilles’ heel, are once again used against her in an effort to wear Beth down but no matter how much they push her, she can sense that something isn’t right, even if her family are all sharing an opinion that conflicts with hers.
The make-up of each of the characters in THE NEST wonderfully reflects their descent. Their grey, pallid faces with sunken, dark eyes, shows they’re nothing more than a vessel for the creatures they’re being controlled by. Whatever lust for life and human spirit they once had has been stolen by the parasites that are sucking every nutritional element and joy from their host. You can’t help wonder what will be left of them by the time the bug has finished with them.
For a film about parasitic creatures, you might expect the film to be a gross creature feature. Unfortunately, we don’t see much of the bugs living inside the bear or the host, which leaves most of the movie dependent on dialogue and how those ‘taken over’ act around others. The creatures do have their own way of communicating though through clicks and it’s disturbing to see an odd bug leg hanging out of a host’s mouth every now and then as it lets its presence be known to other humans, whether they’re occupied by a fellow creature or not.
For a film that’s heavily reliant on its stars and the story to keep things moving, there’s not enough meat on the bone and going over the same ground just drags after a bit with Meg wanting to be with her mum 24/7 yet pushing back against her father to say her mother’s not ready to join the fold. Much like Meg and co. slowly chip away at Beth’s psyche, so did my patience. With very little happening and most scenes shot inside the house, particularly the bedroom during the latter half of the film, it becomes a bit of a bore. The only thing to cling onto is Beth but even that storyline can only go so far before it becomes groundhog day.
THE NEST has some interesting ideas but I felt it lacked the oomph to take it where it needed to be. For me, I needed to see more of the creatures to really inflict the fear factor or have the impact of their host takeover be felt wider than just the insular family and their councillor. The lack of a threat, be it to the outside world or the internal struggle between host and parasite, meant the film climaxed with a fizzle rather than a bang.