Hold onto your hats because I’m about to blow your minds. There’s a movie about a neurotic woman spending time in a glorious gothic mansion that’s haunted by GLORIA GRAHAME (BLOOD AND LACE, MANSION OF THE DOOMED) and, here’s the crazy part, I don’t particularly care for it. Does that even make sense? How on Earth is that even remotely possible? I’ve investigated this phenomenon from every possible angle and it still remains true. It’s a genuine paradox. Here’s another thing, and I feel justified playing this card because I rarely do, I really dislike the main character. I’d blame the actress (ROBIN GROVES) entirely, because she does get on my nerves in a distinct way, but I have to give her some slack as the script relentlessly demands that she act like a persnickety crab. She probably would work as a snide side-character but being handcuffed to this self-absorbed harpy for the entire run of the film becomes laborious. I found myself fantasizing throughout most of THE NESTING that a bus would appear out of nowhere a’la FINAL DESTINATION and just erase her from the screen in a honking blur. Is that normal? Maybe I need to get one of those EXORCIST brain scans. I’m starting to think I have contracted that mental disorder you get from cat poop.
Speaking of mental disorders, our story begins with self-proclaimed “brilliant” novelist Lauren Cochran (GROVES) experiencing a panic attack while walking the streets of a city. Her shrink says she has agoraphobia, which she has never heard of. I would have diagnosed her with whatever is the opposite of agoraphobia due to the fact that throughout the film she acts in the exact opposite way that an agoraphobic would unless agoraphobics are known for moving into towns they’ve never been, climbing on very high roofs and visiting people alone they are warned not to in the middle of nowhere. Truth is, I’d overlook all that contradictory behavior if our hero were capable of any facial expression besides, “I smell Limburger.”
I’m not a stickler for authentic human reactions when we’re dealing with a movie that focuses on fantastic events, but after Lauren is chased by a murderous bug-eyed hillbilly and is cornered and forced to murder him by slitting his head like a melon with a scythe, I expect her to respond in some other way besides running home to wearily curl up with a smoke. I also have a hard time believing her love interest when he shows up and says something along the lines of, “Don’t worry, I talked to the police (about the guy you killed) and it’s cool.”
On the other hand there’s something delicious about a movie that so steadily delivers elements to disapprove of. I derive no joy hallucinating I’m somehow superior by passively pointing out flaws from the couch and yet the mongrel in my brain can’t resist gnawing on a bone this succulently aggravating. So in a way, I do somewhat enjoy NOT enjoying THE NESTING. Luckily, the already mentioned memorable house, the overall overgrown, run-down rural setting and the early eighties time period make this exasperating pill easier to swallow. It’s too bad it doesn’t work better though; there are worse ideas than stealing shamelessly from THE SHINING, GHOST STORY and THE CHANGELING.
The biggest sin of all has to be its squandering of GLORIA GRAHAME in her final film role. She’s barely on screen and when she is, most of her quirkiness is gauzed over. They even slap her with a dubbed, ill-fitting high-pitched laugh, what a waste! Maybe I’ll give it some worthless extra credit for at least trying to be more cerebral and less teen-friendly than what was popular at the time, even though it is probably that exact higher goal that allows it to fall on its face as hard as it does.