Coming Soon - Corbin Nash (2018) - Reviewed

The vampire genre is a tempest of both cinematic wonders and atrocities.  Some of the most classic horror films ever conceived involve these elegant predators, portraying them as vicious nightmares and sexual taboos.  Ben Jagger's contribution to the mythology, Corbin Nash, takes a noir laced approach to the subject matter, blending a classic origin story with an outlandish central performance by '80s icon Corey Feldman.  With a veritable who's who of cult actors, a mysterious underworld of undead politics, and a surprising assortment of set designs and compositions, Nash doesn't break the mold, but the sum of its interesting parts more than overcomes its plethora of flaws.

Det. Corbin Nash uproots his New York life after learning that his parents were murdered by something sinister that stalks the lonely streets of Los Angeles.  After being nearly killed, Nash returns and sets out on a mission of revenge.  Brothers Ben and Dean Jagger's (who also stars as the titular character) script is an oddity.  Told through flashbacks, the narrative is heavy on exposition in the first act and wonderfully mysterious during the finale.  The dialogue is what one would expect from a production such as this, however, the corny rhetoric only enhances the VHS vibe that the film easily achieves.  Corey Feldman is the standout, though his performance will be divisive.  His character is Queeny, a cross dressing vampire who is on a killing spree with his lover, Vince (Frank Wagner).  Feldman's over the top delivery is both cringe-worthy and intriguing, a perfect surrender to the insanity of the world in which this fanged pot-boiler exists.  Dean Jagger's Nash is a formidable physical presence, but it, along with everything else merely orbits Feldman's maniacal eye of the storm. 

The supporting cast features Malcolm McDowell, Bruce Davidson, and Rutger Hauer, however, each of their performances are essentially cameos, delivering exposition when required and then vanishing for the bulk of the story.  Only McDowell's Blind Prophet periodically returns, summoned from the neon ether whenever the plot requires more explanation.  This is an origin story and it is clear that the Jaggers have a whole world planned.  Whether a viewer will want to return for another offering remains to be seen.  There is a sense of hollowness that fills every frame.  Even Feldman's frothy delivery wanes during the final act as things build to a non-confrontation.  The most interesting aspect of the film is the vampires' culture; however, the viewer is only given hints to its true nature in order to build a framework for entries that may follow.  

It's during the fight sequences that the budget begins to show, but it is also a testament to Luke Hanlein's competent cinematography.  Shadows and light are framed in such a manner that each murder is easy to follow and Jagger's physicality is always a highlight.  Jade Spiers' art direction is soiled and disquieting.  This is the bowels of the daylight world, a forgotten, dangerous place where killers ply their trade without fear of recompense and each location is a thing of wicked beauty.  Kiley Ogle's costume design, along with a solid makeup department are also above board, particularly with Feldman's hair, that could be a character unto itself.  The final result is a mixed bag of eye rolling tropes and dialogue contrasted by memorable visuals and skin crawling scenes of depravity.  

Coming to theaters and digital on demand Friday, Corbin Nash is another flawed entry into a genre teeming with mediocrity.  However, the absolute recklessness of Feldman's performance and the production design elevate it to a conflicting place of what could have been and what lies underneath its grimy surface.  Fans of vampire cinema will find much to adore, but those looking for something truly unique may be disappointed with the simplicity of certain aspects.  Despite this, there are many memorable and dangerous directorial choices that make the film worthy of a viewing.

The film is available for preorder at this link.

--Kyle Jonathan