What would you think if I told you about an American-Taiwanese production making a movie in English, with Spanish actors and set somewhere in Thailand but supposedly taking place in Florida?
Let me tell you, Nereus (working title: The Complex… because it takes place in a complex in “Florida”) is absolutely terrible, nonsensical and just bad on every single level… but it’s awful in a completely entertaining, hilarious, glorious way! This review will feature spoilers for two reasons: Nereus is so bad that people who look for good recommendations should know why they need to stay away from it; for those of you who, just like me, find enjoyment in movies so bad they become hilarious, you kind of want to know what to expect.
So, let’s dive right into Nereus, a movie that does everything wrong in the best way possible.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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My review is also available on IMDb – Nereus (2019)
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The opening scene takes place in a swimming pool (and get used to that, because literally 90% of this movie is set in this fucking cheap swimming pool), where a girl is looking at the camera and is being attack by something that we can’t see. And we can’t see because there’s literally nothing: the scene is shot in a way that shows the audience the swimming pool, which is two-feet deep (tops!) and there literally is nothing in the water. This was the first scene in the movie and I was crying with laughter already.
Then we are introduced to the main storyline: during a visit to some friends, Sara (the lead girl who also wrote the script) starts to have visions about the swimming pool and she realises it’s haunted. Yes, you read it right: the swimming pool is haunted! And the movie plays it with such a serious, almost ambitious tone that cracks me up just thinking about it.
The main set of characters is made of three girls (who look like escorts) and three dudes, two of which look like rapists whose eyes always linger on the girls’ body in a very uncomfortable way, and the third one who doesn’t seem older than 15 years old: every single line of dialogue, every single exchange between these “characters” is pure exposition. All of them are just reading the script and explaining what’s happening to the audience, all the fucking time. It’s genuinely glorious. Besides that, aside from the 15-year-old dude, they clearly speak a broken English and delivered lines that have been written by a Spanish person who clearly doesn’t know what phrases Americans would use. As a result, there are so many genuinely hilarious lines in Nereus that I had to stop the movie and write them down to read them whenever I feel low. Here, some of them tidily written down for you:
“You killed my mother!” “Your mother died of cancer, you prick!” “She got it because of you!”
What?! Did a character just imply that you could give someone cancer? I mean, I got cancer watching this movie, but that’s quite a different experience…
“What do you do for a living” “I let people take naked photos of me for magazines”
Do you mean you’re a photo model, right?
“Stay away from the water, the demon can find you even in the shower!”
I almost forgot to mention that, for some unexplained reason, everyone’s parents in the movie are dead. Why? I don’t know, I guess it was the film’s attempt to create sympathetic characters to rely on…
Yet, one last thing about the dialogue: Nereus features quite a few scenes that would generally be considered outtakes. There are moments where the actors forgot their lines and the movie kept those scenes in the final cut!
Speaking of how to handle scenes, Nereus uses the same shots more than once in the movie: at one point, the lead girl is attacked by the “monster” (i.e. a laughably bad, PS1-level CGI effect) in the swimming pool. Two minutes later, the movie shows us the same exact scene! And, get this, later on in the film that scene is displayed again, in case we’ve forgotten!
In terms of “technical features”, Nereus is devoid of any competency: the cinematography consists only of shot reverse shot footage, the most basic technique ever; the audio mixing is awful with super loud moments juxtaposed to sequences where it’s impossible to hear a thing; the editing is so bad it cuts before the scene is over or it stays on one of the characters for a ridiculously stupid amount of time. Worst (or best) of all, the jump-scares are always fake and they constantly consist of loud sounds added in post-production to scenes that weren’t intended as scary. For example, there’s a Skype conversation at some point between 15-year-old dude and his girlfriend (blond bimbo who went to Greece to figure out the swimming pool mystery… yeah, don’t ask) and she goes to grab a glass of water: when she comes back, slowly getting back in frame, there’s a super loud jump-scare that makes absolutely no sense. What’s scary about what we just witnessed? Why would you do that?
Another truly exhilarating moment happens when, out of nowhere, douchebag photo model tries to fist-fight emo kid (they’re two of the “main characters”, I couldn’t be bothered to look up their names) and they keep barely missing each other but the movie and the sound design make it out to be this super cool, hyper-choreographed action scene. At this point, I truly had to stop the movie because my internal organs were hurting from laughing too much.
Let’s go back to the story, for one second. What happens is that a Greek malevolent entity has cursed the swimming pool in “Florida”. Obviously, why that happened is never even touched upon. In order to keep the curse going, though, the demon/creature that looks like a bad special effect from The Last Airbender needs to use a host: this gives Nereus the excuse to trick the audience with four (yes, FOUR) plot twists, none of which makes any sense or is even remotely surprising. It was truly hilarious!
Everything I’ve described so far it’s just the tip of the iceberg, believe me. I could go on to extreme lengths with this review; I could write a book about Nereus, seriously! However, I sincerely would like people who love ‘so bad it’s good’ movies to experience this movie and find many surprises along the ride, which is the main reason why I only listed some of the ways Nereus fucks things up.
Also, I know this article is jumbled and less linear than my reviews usually are. That depends on two reasons: first of all, this movie has a 107-minute-long runtime (without credits!), over which so much random stuff happens that’s impossible to write a coherent review of it. Secondly, as you can see from the photo on the right, my intention to seriously take notes has been ruined by the constant laughs I had while watching the film…
Before finishing this review, I’ve got to seriously acknowledge Nereus does certain things right: besides the lack of talent of inexperience, the production values are decent, which is not a given with movies on this level. Also, they made fake blood look real and some of the practical effects are definitely competent. In fact, the last 5 minutes of Nereus are quite effective and a little creepy: if the 102 minutes prior to the ending weren’t total nonsense, this would actually be a good film!
Finally, I sincerely commend the filmmakers because they really tried… which also made their failure so much more hilarious! Still, Nereus isn’t a dumb horror flick made by hacks who didn’t care; it’s a genuine attempt at a good movie that didn’t work. And, besides the unintentional enjoyment I had from it, I truly wish the best to all the people involved in the making of Nereus: I hope they’ll learn from their mistakes and, next time, they make a film that will be enjoyable for the right reasons.
This is the real grade but, purely based on my enjoyment, I’d give it an 8/10! In fact, when I sit down to watch a movie, whether it’s horror or not, I look for an experience: an experience is, to me, given by exceptional or original or somewhat different movie, but it also provided by movies that are exceptional failures because, at least, I get some sort of feelings out of them.
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