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‘The Nest’ review: Tense horror offers more than expected

Bug horror meets family drama.

The Nest makes it obvious to audiences early on it is going to be a horror movie. Creepy old man? Check. Scary looking stuffed animal? Yep. Cicada-like sound effects when someone opens their mouth? Even the title card is straight out of the horror playbook. Naturally. Once young Meg (Maple Suttles) begins drawing dark pictures, it is hard not to wonder if the film will offer anything different.

Thankfully, the plot does veer away from traditional horror – though it does take a while to get there. After picking up a teddy bear at a yard sale, Meg has a seizure at a park. Immediately after, she cannot stand to be away from her mom, Beth (Sarah Navratil). In time, Beth begins to believe that something may be wrong with her daughter. All the while she is trying to hold her fragile marriage together.

The Nest has many of the classic horror trappings – and they become more prevalent as the film goes on – but there is an interesting conflict within. While Beth is concerend about what is going on with her daughter, others are more apt to believe the issue is grounded in Beth herself. It is a more of a tease than anything else, as this aspect of the story never gest completely explored.

This mystery keeps the film engaging during many cryptic comments made early on. There is something about Beth that makes others distrust her. The Nest wants audiences to question what is true and not. This plot thread does not last long, however. The story makes it clear that Beth is right to be worried and when the mystery about her is eventually resolved it is in a throwaway comment that some may even miss.

At this point, The Nest has become a twisted family drama. Themes of need and family take center stage. It never stops being a horror movie, but there is a surprising depth to things. Nonetheless, the poster sets a certain expectation that is never quite met. The Nest looks like it is going to be a gross out flick that has a serious bug problem. There are some impressive teases along the way, but the promise of the advertising is never quite realized.

The Nest makes up for the lack of creature effects with some great tension. The film’s mood can literally be seen on the sunken and sallow features of its cast. This brings a surprisingly personal touch to a movie that seemed like it would be incapable of letting audiences get close to it. By the terrifying finale, it is clear for all its flaws, it is a worthwhile horror movie.

The Nest will be available on digital and DVD July 20

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