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Nesting, The

Blue Underground // R // June 28, 2011 // Region 0
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Adam Tyner | posted June 23, 2011 | E-mail the Author
"Troubled, uptight writer goes to small, sleepy town in search of peace and inspiration. Instead she finds an erupting volcano of lust and passion."

Well, at least that's what Lauren Cochran (Robin Groves) thinks the headlines might read. If it's a slow news day or whatever, maybe the press'll bite on a story about an agoraphobic horror novelist trying to stamp out her mental hiccups by renting an octagonal old house in the middle of nowhere. 'Course, Lauren doesn't know that she just signed a lease on a haunted WWII-era brothel, and what with the whole "if it bleeds, it leads" deal, I think the papers might have a different angle in mind:

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The Nesting plays kind of like a grindhouse spin on The Changeling: an atmospheric, character-driven ghost story that every once in a while shamelessly throws in some tits and splatter. Sounds great on paper, sure, but the movie never really manages to pull it off. If you're thinking about grabbing this Blu-ray disc to scratch some kind of exploitation itch, those screengrabs cover pretty much all of it. Nudity and gore are sparse, and nothing overtly supernatural happens in The Nesting until the movie's 45 minutes in. That's not inherently a bad thing, seeing as how the greatest and most enduring haunted house stories -- The Innocents and The Changeling, for instance -- manage to be so unnerving without blanketing the screen in blood and breasts. It's just that those other movies I mentioned are masterfully directed films that build an immediately unsettling atmosphere, an engaging mystery that aches to be uncovered, richly drawn characters, and a slew of memorable performances. The Nesting shakily aims in that general direction but misses the mark. It's not a bad movie, but I'm not really given any reason to care about anything that's going on.

The supporting cast ranges from forgettable -- like the physicist love interest -- to flat-out unwatchable. Lauren's boyfriend from back home (Christopher Loomis) is a dweeb who I guess is supposed to be the comic relief, first introduced with, like, two minutes straight of "ah, so!" stereotypical racial accents and lobbing out eight hojillion puns and snarky observations from there. He's not quite as grating as Franklin in the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but geez, Mark has to rank somewhere pretty high on my list of Worst Characters in Any Movie, Ever list. John Carradine has what amounts to a cameo as a crusty old millionaire hiding a dark secret. Just about everyone else in the supporting cast are deliriously over-the-top cartoon characters, leaving Robin Groves to shoulder pretty much the entire movie herself, and she's too shrill and unsympathetic to pull that off. The Nesting plods along at a glacial pace, briefly sputtering to life during the supernatural attacks before settling back into a wholly uninvolving mystery with wholly uninvolving characters. There's no trace of tension or suspense. The movie clocks in at 103 minutes but creeps along so slowly that it feels like it's running a half hour longer than that. The ending just left me shaking my head. The Nesting benefits immensely from shooting on location, and the octagonal house where nearly every shot of the film is lensed looks phenomenal, but that sense of atmosphere is deflated by everything else that's going on. There are scattered glimpses of brilliance, but they're few and very far between, and it's not worth slogging through the rest of the movie to get there. The Nesting is completely watchable, and I don't regret having taken the time to watch it, but that's about as high as the praise goes this time around. I can't really picture myself ever giving this Blu-ray disc another spin, and there's little here deserving of much of a recommendation. Rent It.

Say what you want about the movie, but
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there's no denying that The Nesting looks spectacular in high definition. Crispness and clarity are impressively robust, especially whenever the photography has any light to play with. With the level of detail and texture offered here, especially before Lauren steps foot in the old mansion, The Nesting looks several years more recent than it really is, with only the garish wardrobe and hairstyles dating it. Its palette is nicely saturated as well. There is some sporadic softness, and the image unavoidably degrades in shots with optical effects, but otherwise, The Nesting is every bit as perfect as I could've hoped to see. The texture of its film grain is natural and unintrusive. There's no trace of wear or damage, and the high-def presentation isn't dragged down by any edge enhancement, excessive noise reduction, or compression artifacting. I really don't have any complaints or criticism at all.

The AVC encode for The Nesting spans both layers of this BD-50 disc, and the movie is very slightly letterboxed to preserve its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

Despite its beefy technical specs -- boasting 24-bit, 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio -- The Nesting doesn't sound nearly as great as it looks. The film's dialogue frequently suffers from some moderate clipping. There is some hiss lurking in the background, and there's one somewhat early shot in particular where it spikes painfully high. Bass response is sometimes thick and resonant -- especially when punctuating the jump scares -- and other times more of a dull rumble. As multichannel remixes go, The Nesting fares alright. There's some subtle and effective directionality to the dialogue. Even something as low-key as a station wagon pulling out of the driveway or Lauren strolling around the house will take advantage of all of the speakers at the mix's fingertips. The ghostly havoc in The Nesting's final moments really makes its presence known. Some of the surround effects have a hard cutoff, going dead silent when the movie cuts to another angle, and that can be kind of jarring. On the upside, if you're not impressed with this eight-channel remix, Blue Underground has provided the original monaural soundtrack, although it's unfortunately not lossless.

Also included is a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX track, encoded at a bitrate of 640kbps. Subtitles are offered in English (SDH), French, and Spanish.

Considering that so many of the principals are either dead or have long-since faded into obscurity, it's not surprising that there aren't that many bulletpoints in this list of extras. Still, I'm really impressed that Blue Underground was able to unearth
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so much for The Nesting, especially all of these alternate and deleted scenes. That's a definite rarity for an underseen horror movie ringing in its thirtieth anniversary.
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (12 min.; HD): This lengthy reel of deleted and alternate scenes is presented in high definition and looks every bit as good as the movie proper. The one entirely new scene is a police investigation into Dr. Webb's death, and otherwise, this reel generally belts out longer versions of what's already in the movie, sometimes more explicitly spelling out things that'd be saved for a larger reveal in the finished cut. The additions mostly revolve around dialogue, so don't expect any new scares. The car chase is extended a bit, although the audio is missing from this version.

  • Poster and Still Gallery (HD): The Nesting sports an impressively extensive still gallery: posters, pages from its pressbook, a lot of artwork under its original title of Phobia, production stills in color and black and white, behind-the-scenes shots, location stills, and even legal documents and press clippings.

  • Trailers (6 min.; HD): Rounding out the extras are a domestic theatrical trailer, a Spanish trailer, and three TV spots. All of them are presented in high definition, including the 4x3 TV ads which unexpectedly are by far the best looking of the bunch.

The Final Word
The Nesting is an overly talky, awkwardly paced, uninvolving ghost story that every once in a while lobs out a few seconds' worth of tits and gore. It waffles between classic atmospheric horror and shameless exploitation without ever really wrapping its hands around either approach. The Nesting isn't some kind of soul-crushingly embarrassing trainwreck or anything, but it doesn't do anything well enough to scream out for more than a rental. Rent It.
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