“Nix” can mean two things in German. Aside from being the word for “nothing,” it’s also the name of a creature from local folklore. This play on the word is important to remember when diving into Anthony C. Ferrante‘s newest horror movie nix. the sharknado director once again brings terror to the surface as an aquatic threat exits the water and leaves death in its wake. Yet considering the title’s double meaning, the monster in question may or may not even be real.
nix opens sometime in the past when people captured their most cherished moments with handheld cameras rather than phones. The Coyle family’s picnic by a pond turns grim as daughter Tessa (Angelina Karo) goes missing, and all signs point to her drowning in the water nearby. The present day then abruptly comes into view, and the remaining Coyle family members are still reeling from their losses. Tessa and her father (Michael DeVorzon) are long gone, yet the pain of losing them is fresh on the minds of Lucas (Skyler Caleb) and his mother Donna (Dee Wallace). The only seemingly functional Coyle, other than an estranged uncle (Michael Parec), is Jack (James Zimbardic), who has since become a surrogate father to his young niece and Lucas’ daughter, Zoey (Niesha Renee Guilbot).
nix follows a familiar path, one audiences have seen before. A tragedy causes insurmountable grief, and the affected parties eventually suspect their misfortune is really the work of a supernatural force. By the second act, the story has become a greatest hits collection for these kinds of movies. From the inconsolable matriarch too consumed with the kid she lost, all the while losing touch with her living children, to the sibling who can never get his act together because they’re so haunted, Ferrante’s movie is simply a repackaging of old themes.
Based on how much the movie’s namesake is seen early on and later, it seems the creature is in fact real and not just a metaphor for the characters’ pain and grief. It’s also surprising how much of the suitmated Nix is shown in broad daylight. Finding a horror movie where the monster is visible and not cloaked in darkness is out of fashion these days. Of course seeing the Nix in plain view doesn’t mean audiences can totally trust their eyes. They will still have doubts as this twisty story continues to unfold.
Where nix starts to finally pick up is in the last act. Jack is so swept up in his family’s emotional maelstrom, he naturally starts to lose his grip on reality. He embodies the viewers’ confusion as a big revelation hits him like a brick wall and changes everything he thought to be true. From there the movie becomes weirder and, at times, a tad more interesting.
nix is more of a head case than a case of creature horror. The eponymous monster is integral to everything gone wrong in one unfortunate family, though how so changes over the course the movie. The cerebral conclusion is something to look forward to, but everything before then poses a challenge.
nix is available for Digital rental and purchase starting on September 27.