Nix is a new psychological horror by director Anthony C. Ferrante who co-wrote it with Woodrow Wilson Hancock III, James Zimbardi and Skyler Caleb all three of whom also appear in the film. Ferrante of course is known for the Sharknado films and seems to be at a loss to replicate their success since the franchise ended and Zombie Tidal Wave failed to generate any sequels. He’s bounced from Christmas films to a couple of Lifetime Network lack-of-thrillers to Tubi’s kid-friendly musical Time Pirates.
With Nix, he seems to have gone back to the more serious horror of his first couple of features. It’s been nearly twenty years but I remember Boo being an OK film so maybe this will work for him.
Nix begins in “THE PAST” with Tessa (Angelina Karo, Righteous Blood, The Insurrection) waking up from a nightmare of a creature in a lake. By the end of the day, she’ll be dead, apparently the victim of the beast in her nightmare. Now in “THE PRESENT” the family still hasn’t recovered.
Jack (James Zimbardi, Awaken the Shadowman, Dead Season), who seems to be the most normal of the bunch, works at a theatre that’s about to close. His girlfriend Liz (Angie Teodora Dick, Planet of the Sharks, Another Mother) has gotten a job elsewhere and wants him to leave with her. “You aren’t their babysitter. You need to live your own life”.
But they do seem to need a babysitter. Dad is no longer among the living, Lucas (Skyler Caleb, Forgotten, Killer Therapy) is unemployed, looks like a meth addict is and haunted by voices from that day Tessa died. Donna (Dee Wallace, The Munsters, Critters), their mother, sits staring at a static-filled TV screen, convinced her daughter isn’t dead, just out there lost twenty-five years later. And they still celebrate Tessa’s eighth birthday every year.
And they still celebrate Tessa’s birthday every year. And this year that provokes an explosion from Lucas in front of his young daughter Zoey (Niesha Renee Guilbot, Deadly Misconduct, Christmas Lovers Anonymous) whose mother looks and acts like a meth addict, and has dropped off with no fixed plans of picking her back up.
“Once we landed on the concept of Nix and realized its potential, I was excited to return to my horror roots with this elevated, original horror movie,” said Ferrante. “It was also a chance to dig deep into these fractured, haunted characters and explore the depth and emotion within this dark setting while still delivering solid thrills and chills.”Anthony C. Ferrante
We do get to see the creature quite a bit during Nix’s first half hour, but it’s in the form of hallucinations in Lucas’ rapidly unravelling mind. It’s heavy on the psychological, but quite light on the horror. Even the practical effects, including the creature and a messy suicide, can’t salvage it. When Michael Paré (Lockdown, The Wild Man: Skunk Ape) turns up as an addiction counsellor I seriously questioned if this was the creature feature the poster and trailer promised.
The problem is Nix has very few scares, even the creature popping up out of the darkness rarely works on the jump scare level. And by the final half-hour when Jack starts seeing Liz dead in a videotape he shot on the day Tessa died, and which his adult self may or may not be in, it all becomes ridiculous rather than elevated. Adding in a strange woman (Tracy Pfau, Paradise Highway, Salvation U.S.A.) who spouts lines like “I come from the vaterland, the old country” doesn’t help either.
By the time Nix reaches its ludicrous, supposedly touching finale and an epilogue, set in “THE FUTURE” I was well over it. This unfortunately isn’t a call back to the style of Ferrante’s first film. It’s a pretentious mess that’s more concerned with trauma and addiction than horror and needed a serious rewrite including an actual final act rather than what seems to be random ideas tossed up on the screen.