Nowhere Man is a story torn right out of today's headlines – or at least, what would have been today's headlines if it were made a decade or so ago. The very John Wayne Bobbitt-esque story follows a man named Conrad who finds a red VHS tape on his doorstep one day. As mysterious as that action might be, Conrad takes the tape inside, puts it into his VCR, and is promptly freaked out when he sees footage of his wife, Jennifer (played by lovely b-movie starlet Debbie Rochon), getting slammed by a big black dude from behind. Yes, he can't believe it but it's true, his wife used to be a porno actress.
When wifey-poo comes home, Conrad is pretty pissed off at her for hiding this little skeleton in her closet for so long, and the pair of lovebirds end up in a pretty serious fight over it all. She ends up so upset that she snips his cock off with a pair of scissors and runs to the aforementioned big black dude's house to hide out for a while. When she does contact her soon to be ex-husband again, it's to tell him that she's got the misappropriated member in her possession and that he can have it back if he can in turn hook her up with ten grand. Conrad can't afford what she's asking so he decides to hunt her down and take back what is so rightfully his in the first place, but he's only got so much time before these things expire.
Romantic comedy of the year material, this is not.
The film plays out much of its running time in reverse, kind of like Christopher Nolan's Memento which keeps things interesting in that initially you're really not sure what is going on. The way it unfolds is quite clever and the pacing keeps the story moving right along to the ending, where we're hit with a couple of clever little twists. While this isn't a Pulitzer Prize winning story, it's got enough going on to hold your attention from start to finish and despite its very obviously low budget, it's pretty well made at that.
Performances are better in this one than you're likely to find in most independent shot on video features. Debbie Rochon delivers some actual range in her performance and even manages to evoke a bit of sympathy in a few spots (no easy task considering she's a wee-wee chopper). Michael Rodrick, as Conrad, does a solid job of portraying enough anger and confusion over his unexpected separation to be just believable enough in the role to pull it all off. Look for Troma head honcho Lloyd Kaufman in a small cameo role as a doctor, though if you're expecting his trademark goofiness you might be disappointed as surprisingly enough he plays it all pretty straight and does a half decent job of it as well.
If Nowhere Man has one fatal flaw it's that the story didn't really develop enough. Yeah, it's all well and good to focus on the bloody after effects of having your penis severed from your body but a little more insight into the psyche of the victim and the victimizer would have gone a long way to making this one a better film that it turned out to be. Not to say that it's bad, because it's actually pretty decent, but it could have been more than a nasty little John Bobbitt retelling.
Nowhere Man was shot on video and as such, the picture doesn't have the clarity or the detail it would have had if it were shot on film but overall, the 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen image isn't bad at all. The colors look pretty decent, and while there is some mpeg compression evident in a few of the darker scenes, the blacks stay pretty strong. Edge enhancement is present throughout and there is some mild line shimmering in a lot of places too, but the skin tones look nice and for a shot on video production, there's a pretty high level of foreground and background picture detail.
The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound mix is perfectly fine on this DVD, even if it isn't going to blow your mind. The dialogue is consistently clean and clear and there aren't any problems with hiss or distortion at all. The only real flaw is that there are a few scenes that sound just a little bit on the flat side and one or two spots where the dialogue levels could have been just a hair higher up in the mix. Other than that though, the music and sound effects come through nice and clear and don't really over power the performers and this track gets the job done without any really big problems. There are no alternate language dubs, subtitles or closed captions supplied on this DVD.
Director Tim McCann is on hand for a feature length director's commentary, and he's joined by actress Debbie Rochon. McCann handles most of the track but Rochon adds some interesting anecdotes about her role in the film here and there. McCann has a lot to say about the film, getting it made, some of the problems that they ran into on set and even before filming started, and also provides some technical details on the film as well.
Aside from the commentary track, there's also a theatrical trailer for the film and biographies on the key cast and crew members. There are also previews for other, unrelated First Run Features DVD releases.
Nowhere Man isn't a bad film despite its flaws. A lot of the dark comedy works really nicely and there are a few interesting gross out moments, even if they are a bit predictable. It would have been interesting if the filmmakers had done more with the premise but as it stands, it's a twisted and funny little film that's worth checking out. The DVD is of acceptable quality and the commentary is a nice extra. If you're big into indy films and black comedy, you'll dig this one, even if you're not, it's a solid rental.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.