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A Nail to your Brain: schizoid art trash Nails (2003)

DVD cover for Russian underground film Nails (2003)

Tetsuo: The Iron Man was often described as a collaboration of Lynch and Cronenberg on an early draft of Terminator, which was to be shot in Japan.

If so, then the Russian budget-less underground film Nails (Гвозди, 2003) is a project of Lynch’s and Cronenberg’s bastard children, who due to the shortage of cash, had to sell it to a med school drop-out from Khabarovsk, the Russian Far East.

The world of the hitman without nails in his brain is monochromically dull

Nails is a story of a hitman (Aleksandr Shevchenko), who suffers from terrible migraines and once in despair batters a nail down his skull. Headache goes away, but the hero’s perception of reality alters. Soon enough he needs a fix of his new “drug”, and all the nails from an instrument box end up piercing his brain.  As his new reality gets more and more disturbing, he is unable to stand it anymore and makes an attempt to extract part of his brain responsible for perception…

In the best traditions of The Wizard of Oz, the film shifts to colour after the first nail is driven in

I totally dig that kind of plots, so imagine my excitement when I found out about the film. Moreover it seemed like a perfect film to get me in the mood for Sitges film fest.

As it turned out, to watch Nails is like putting a nail through your own brain. Acid eye-ripping visuals along with a battering electronic noise on the soundtrack are doing their part.

When nails can’t help, drill and circular saw come to the rescue

Although the director Andrey Iskanov was demonstrating me extreme close-ups of bleeding holes in the hero’s skull, I thought I can actually see gaping holes in the film’s budget. I don’t mind low budgets, but in combination with the lack of cinematic skills and grandiosity of the plot, they are doing no good.

Overall, Nails is occasionally decent, but unless you are a very open-minded trash connoisseur and a devotee of Russian underground culture, I wouldn’t recommend it.

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