Horror films are subjective; what is scary to one person might not be to another.
This could be the case with “Nefarious,” a faith-based horror film written and directed by Chuck Knozelman and Cary Solomon. Based on “A Nefarious Plot,” a novel written by Steve Deace, the film follows psychiatrist Dr. James Martin as he evaluates a convicted serial killer named Edward Wayne Brady, who has been on death row for the past 11 years.
The set intention of the film is to discover whether Edward is mentally fit to stand for execution by electrocution. Set in an Oklahoma prison, there is an underlying sinister force happening Dr. Martin does not actually believe in, which adds suspense.
Released on April 14, “Nefarious” is still being shown in select theaters and is not yet available for streaming. The two directors have had many popular releases in the Christian film category, such as “God’s Not Dead” and “Unplanned.”
The entirety of “Nefarious” is heavy in dialouge. For more than half of the film, the audience was watching a back-and-forth conversation between two characters. To some, this may sound like a drag but the writing was impeccable. Something I found surprising was how on the edge of my seat I was, I did not want to miss a single word that was spoken.
The two discuss the reality of God, the devil, heaven, hell, judgement, damnantion and free will. It ultimately leads to a discussion of how demons manipulate and control humans, which is their way of “destroying God’s image.” Through these heavy topics, Edward proclaims he is actually a demon. This said demon, Nefarious itself, states that it's merely using Edward as a host body, inhabiting him and making him do heinous things, accomplishing what his master expects of him and torturing Edward in the process.
Actor, Sean Patrick Flannery, whom portrayed Edward, was undoubtedly amazing. I truly felt his pain watching along, him switching between Edward and the demon was scarily a great impression of possession.
There are many layers to this film which I believe can be impactful even if you are not religious. Dr. Martin is a self-proclaimed atheist, which made the conversation all the more intriguing and eye opening. Although there are no jump scares and minimal violence, the R-rating is justified for a reason. One of the final scenes was excruciating to watch, so it is not necessarily a film you leave the theater feeling good about. I had a million burning questions exiting the AMC.
Going up against highly anticipated films such as “Evil Dead Rise” and “The Pope’s Exorcist” in the box office at the same time is difficult within itself, but faith-based horror should not be overlooked. It is not a genre everyone will like, even I went into it with skepticism. Even if it is not something you find yourself believing in, the film has the most fascinating dialogue I have heard in a long time. Branching out to a different kind of horror is worthwhile.