Andrey Iskanov’s classic film from 2003, NAILS, has been completely remastered and recently re-released. This is a film that is stunning visually and audibly. For the duration of the film, we are in Andrey Iskanov’s control. He is the film’s writer, director, producer, editor, and he composes the score and designs the set pieces. He is involved in the elaborate gore makeup and other effects. The result is a strange surreal vision. It is clear that there was one force behind the film, for everything from the lighting to the color of the outfits—even the food—looks like nothing you have ever seen in a film before. I was reminded of three films, not that NAILS looks like these films, but these films also create their own surreal world: Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, David Lynch’s Eraserhead, and Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo.
One way the film is similar to Eraserhead, Tetsuo, and 2001 is that all these films take place in their own unique little words; nothing like the bland world we live in. In terms of it relentless graphic violence, of the three it is closest to Tetsuo, which also has a feel that is a combination of industrial and surreal.
The plot of NAILS is simple—through hammering nails into his skull a man opens up his mind, allowing him to experience reality in a new way. It is as if he had just taken a potent psychedelic drug and his dreams and visions are both disgusting and beautiful at the same time. So much care went into every aspect of the film, and it is filmed so flawlessly. As the movie progresses he continues his experiment, moving from a hammer and nails to a power drill.
In the Making Of feature, the genesis of the idea for the film is exposed. Andrey was doing research and found out that several coroners, when conducting routine autopsies, found nails in the heads of certain patients. These patients went on to live the rest of their lives with a nail embedded in their brains. After investigating this phenomenon, director Andrey Iskanov decided to make a film about the phenomena. The film asks the question, “What would reality look and feel like if we did something this radical to our brains?”
Another point the film makes is that the process of putting nails into your brain—much like psychedelic drugs—can lead you to see things previously invisible. Being in this condition one is able to see through all the lies and social constructs, see the true essence of things. When asked about this, Andrey Iskanov said that the process of putting nails in one’s head, in this film, is to see the truth of things. This is made most clear when he sees his girlfriend as someone without a soul. Through the process we can see things not as they appear to be, but as they really are.
Because the director Andrey Iskanov has very dark, pessimistic beliefs, the ability to actually see reality, unfiltered, turns out to be a terrible curse. Other people are monsters, lacking souls. Everything is wrong. Everything is ugly. Everything is disgusting.
Despite Iskanov’s love for “grotesque images,” NAILS is a beautiful film. An extreme amount of care went into all aspects of the production, and though there are grotesque images they are captured in a attractive way. Iskanov proves that through art, you can turn something ugly into something beautiful.
For people who have criticized Iskanov’s film Philosophy of a Knife for being close to 5 hours long, this film may be appealing, clocking in at just under an hour. Included in the DVD is the film’s soundtrack. Iskanov is able to create a soundscape that sounds otherworldly. Other features including the Making Of feature, Music Videos, a preview for Andrey’s newest film INGRESSION, and a preview for Philosophy of A Knife.
Like in Visions of Suffering, The Tourist, and Philosophy of a Knife, Andrey Iskanov has made another classic crazy festival of gore and brains. But he has also made another film that is thought provoking, and confrontational, forcing the audience to think.
NAILS is available now via Last Exit Entertainment. Contact them here: [email protected]