Director: Armand Weston
Cast: Robin Groves, Christopher Loomis, Michael David Lally
Review by Brian M. Sammons
I must have seen the box art for this ’80s horror flick a thousand times on the shelves of a dozen mom & pop video rental stores and yet I never did see it. Why? Because with a title like The Nesting I assumed it was about killer bugs or something and I preferred my horror back then to be of a more slasher, zombie, demonic, or ghostly nature. But, if I had taken a moment to read the back of this movie’s box, I might have been surprised. Sort of like how I was surprised when I got this new Blu-ray in the mail from my buddies over at Blue Underground. You see, The Nesting has nothing to do with bugs, or birds, or anything that actually nests. It is, in fact, the most poorly named haunted house movie in history, or at least a contender for the title. It should have stuck with its more sensational, and accurate, alternate title Massacre Mansion. Even the alternate, alternate title of Phobia is more accurate than The Nesting. But horrible title aside, is the movie any good?
Let’s find out.
A lady author of a mystery novel called The Nesting (and yes, that’s the only explanation for the title of this film that you get) named Lauren is suffering from agoraphobia. To help get over it she leaves the big city for a working vacation in the countryside. Hmm, sounds more like cityphobia, but whatever. She comes across a rundown octagon house that she swears she has never seen before, and yet it resembles the house on the cover of her last book. Clearly not getting the clue that she should STAY THE HELL OUT OF THAT HOUSE, she rents it for the summer and almost immediately starts seeing weird things happening. But I give Lauren this much, she realizes that she’s in a haunted house in record time for being in a haunted house movie.
Since the mystery author loves a good mystery, she starts looking into the history of the unusual house and why she not only keeps seeing strange things, but keeps having bizarre dreams of someone else’s life. This leads to the owner of the house, the always creepy John Carradine, who naturally has a dark secret. Uncovering this secret is at the heart of this movie, and while you may see the twist coming way in advance, there’s enough good stuff between there and here to keep you watching, including pretty darn good acting from Robin Groves as our lead, a surprise slasher-like effect or two, and some glorious over acting by the town fool/scumbag. But unfortunately, that’s about all this film has. The plot sort of just plods along, checking off the boxes as it goes, never really doing anything bad, but not doing anything new, either. The Nesting is a by-the-numbers haunted house film; as such it was a fun watch, if not a completely memorable one.
While the film was only so-so, Blue Underground has done a good job restoring and up-converting the old 1981 film to High-Def. While not as bright as modern movies on Blu-ray, it nonetheless looks really good. Thankfully it still has the look of film to it and I’ll take that any day over the overly polished till it has the plastic look of most modern flicks. Sadly, the extras are nothing to write home about. There are a few deleted and extended scenes, but they add nothing new. Trailers, TV spots, and poster and photo galleries are it for the goodies.
The Nesting is an OK fright film that has flew under my horror radar for too long thanks to a misleading, nonsensical title. While it was not spectacular or anything, it does have a few good frights and a neat little mystery to puzzle out, which is more than what I can say for many ghostly movies. If you’ve been waiting for this film to resurface after a very long absence or you’re a fan of haunted houses in general then thank the folks over at Blue Underground for bringing back this all but forgotten fright film. Here’s hoping they continue to bring more rare horror flicks to the modern age.