Review – “Nefarious”

New thriller tests the limits of good and evil, makes intriguing choices

As a horror movie watcher, I love movies from 1996’s “Scream” to 2021’s “The Black Phone,” but there is one area of the genre that I almost always refuse to watch because it gives me the chills: paranormal. However, this didn’t stop me from going to the movie theater with my mom to watch the new thriller film “Nefarious,” a movie about the struggle between good and evil, and I’m glad I didn’t miss out on that experience.

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“Nefarious,” meaning wicked, criminal and evil, kicks off into the suspenseful story with psychiatrist Dr. James Martin, played by Jordan Belfi. It’s earlier in the day of a scheduled execution of the convicted serial killer Edward Wayne Brady, played by Sean Patrick Flanery, who claims to be possessed by a demon. Dr. Martin has to conduct a psychiatric evaluation of Brady to confirm or deny his sanity to determine if he is executed at the end of the day.

The majority of the movie takes place in the jail and shows the entire evaluation of Brady, which I thought was an interesting choice for the setting but also the way it needed to be done to accomplish the complete plot of the story the correct way. It was very fascinating, and I kept forgetting that there wasn’t a whole lot of action going on. Even with a large part of the film being two men sitting across from each other talking, I was still intrigued throughout the whole movie. Although it was an out-of-the-box choice, it was the right one because it helped the audience focus on the dialogue and the delivery.

With the setting being in one place, the plot was simple yet riveting. Although there wasn’t much action going on throughout the whole movie, and consisted of mainly two men sitting across from each other and talking, the dialogue was still interesting and captivating, leaving me wondering what would happen next and where the conversation would lead. 

The script for this movie was only a blueprint, though. What really brought the script to life was the actors, who delivered their lines amazingly, especially Flanery. I was absolutely blown away by his acting, which was undoubtedly the best acting I’ve ever seen. Usually, when watching a show or a movie, I dwell on the acting after I’m done watching, but with Flanery, I was starstruck in the theater by his acting and delivery. 

I could talk for hours about his acting ability, like how quickly he could switch between the real Edward Wayne Brady and the demon using his body as a host. He changed on the dime as if by blinking he could change his personality completely, which was exactly how the human-demon relationship needed to be presented. The demon was cold-hearted, witty, quick-speaking and extremely manipulative, never failing to get inside people’s heads, while Edward was a tragic, desperate, sad and heartbreaking character. When the real Edward was let out, for only a short amount of time, I could feel empathy for him although he wasn’t exactly a great person before being possessed. You know an actor does a really good job when they make you feel compassion for a so-called bad character. It felt like a stab in the heart during the two scenes where the real Edward talks to a guard about ordering his last meal. I think it’s safe to say that Flanery has an undeniably phenomenal ability to leave the audience in awe of his outstanding performance. 

Belfi also did an excellent job with his character, capturing the whirlwind of confusion the character was feeling as he interviewed the demon possessing Brady’s body in an awesome way. When his character got mad, he didn’t just get upset: he got heated, and it showed. When he was worried and scared at the same time but wouldn’t dare to falter his posture, he still gave it away with his expression and the sound of his voice. One of these times was the scene in which he tried calling his girlfriend, where I could almost see his heart drop in the moments he was listening to the other line. 

As a whole, “Nefarious” was sewn together perfectly with the complexity of the characters playing into the storyline and with the actors delivering that complexity accordingly. Never once was I disappointed with this movie, and it just kept amazing me with the twists and turns of the plot and really left me thinking in the end. Even if you are like me and don’t normally go for the paranormal side of thrillers, it would definitely be nefarious for you not to see this movie.