Patrick Rea‘s NAILBITER has won numerous awards at horror film festivals across the United States–and for good reason. The film manages to exceed every expectation set for an indie horror featuring very sympathetic and likable three-dimensional characters, clear cinematography and impressive directorial focus. The creature transformation of the local townsfolk is a little shoddy however, the film is good for what it is, and the Maguire Family is the reason why Nailbiter works.

Janet Maguire (Erin McGrane) is a recovering alcoholic and the mother of three daughters. Her husband is set to arrive in Kansas City from service abroad in the military. While en-route to meet him there, a tornado disrupts the small town on the way. The Maguire and her small family take refuge in a storm cellar, but before they can leave, they discover they are being held captive by the family living above them who are not quite human.

The creatures–or townspeople aren’t initially scary to look at. Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t “beautiful” by any means, but there is the looming expectation for gruesome and oozing flesh considering that this is a horror film. However, the townsfolk resembles the old Tales From the Crypt keeper. There is also a lack of explanation about how thunderstorms transforms the townspeople into these creatures. Something is definitely in the water–the rain appeared to give them an adrenaline rush.

There is also sufficient character development overall, and the Maguire daughters Sally (Sally Spurgeon) and Alice (Emily Boresow) add to the family’s overall likability. There are some familiar concerns–Janet addresses her concerns about her husband being away during her Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and her eldest daughter, Jennifer (Meg Saricks) has a few problems of her own–typical teen angst. There is more going on than what is shown on the surface. The brief glimpses into the mother-daughter relationship issues provide the characters with enough personality, escaping the boorish categorization commonly seen in a horror movie character.

Nailbiter isn’t perfect, but it is a surprisingly good horror film.


Nailbiter DVD special features include:


•  Commentary from the cast and filmmakers.
•  Storyboard-to-screen comparison.
•  Trailer gallery

Nailbiter presents in widescreen presentation, English 5.1 Dolby Digital audio with optional English and Spanish subtitles. The storyboard-to-screen comparison is well illustrated well and would make for a pretty decent comic if the creator set a mind to it.

Art and supplementary materials courtesy ©2013 of Lionsgate Home Entertainment. All rights reserved.

  • Editor Rating

  • Rated 3 stars
  • Good

  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: 2013-06-19

Review Summary:

A group of people are forced to take refuge from a deadly tornado, only to realize that someone - or something not quite human - is holding them captive.

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