On May 23rd Shudder released another exclusive with the Brazilian Horror masterpiece The Nightshifter. This incredible dark, twisted and macabre film is near perfect in everyway imaginable from debuting director Dennison Ramalho. I watch a lot of horror and it takes a very unique and impressive film to grasp 100% of my attention and leave me sitting on the couch saying aloud, “Ok, the fuck are you doing now?” And The Nightshifter did exactly that and much more. This mind warping, depressing film will haunt you for days to come after watching it. Watch your steps as spoilers do exist but I promise, this film is an experience.
The movie opens and immediately we dive into the supernatural with graveyard shift morgue worker Stenio and his unique ability to converse with the dead. The first act of this film paints a picture of Stenio’s less than perfect life. At night he cleans and sews up the bodies of the dead and in the day, he is bossed around and humiliated by his wife Odette. One night one of the dead bodies of a gangster, Sujo, tells him about the man who sold him out and confesses that he and his brother killed their father.
“God does not forgive someone who kills their family.”
The next night Stenio is cleaning the body of another gangster who tells him that his wife Odette is cheating on him with the local baker Jaime. Stenio ditches work to go spy on his wife and finds this all to be true. Stenio, enraged, formulates a plan to tell the surviving gangsters that Jaime was the rat that sold them out and to ensure their trust he relays Sujo’s story of killing his father to the only other person that knows, Jonas, Sujo’s Brother and the gang’s leader. One night when Jaime and Odette meet up, Jonas and his crew appear, slitting Jaime’s throat and shooting Odette dead in the street. And this is where the movie ratchets up the insanity.
As Stenio cleans off his wife’s body they have one of the darkest conversations I’ve ever seen in film. Stenio tells her how he knew she was cheating and that it was him who sent Jonas and his men to kill her and Jaime. As she screams in rage at him he pulls a ring from his pocket and slides it on her finger.
“Five stones, one for each letter in your name. Now, in death, forever you will be mine.”
He kisses her gently as she screams for him to take off the ring as he slowly walks away. Fucking dark shit. At this point in the movie Stenio is the worst bastard of all bastards. Sure, he’s a father and works hard for his kids, but goddamn man, “Forever you will be mine”…just a little much bro.
Soon after his house starts to get all Poltergeisty as shadows move in the house, doors open, and the kids get spooked at night. The standard pissed off spirit stuff. One-night Stenio is called to a horrendous double murder of Jonas and one of the other gangsters, they open their bodies up and find their organs have teeth marks on them. Dead Jonas tells Stenio, “she is back, and she is angry” his mouth falling open to reveal a swatch of Odette’s flesh that has their kids’ names tattooed on it. WHAT THE FUCK.
So, all of this sounds horrific and disturbing, I know, and while that is true it is also not overly gruesome or gory. Sure, there is some blood and guts, but its very minimal. The dark horrific nature of this movie is not the imagery, it’s the story and the mood. The tone of this movie creeps up your spine and makes your hairs raise with each step the plot lurches forward. Amazing filmmaking.
After one disastrous night at the morgue where they are overloaded with victims of a mudslide an exhausted Stenio falls asleep at his desk but awakens in one of the cold lockers in the morgue. He wakes up, choking, and manages to free himself and cough up what he was choking on. Odette’s ring! AHHHH. He convinces the caretaker at the graveyard to let him dig up his wife’s body, the ring is gone, and she tells him she will never rest until his children knows who he is, a murderer.
All the while Stenio is terrified at work, his children Edson and Cica as well as their babysitter Lara are haunted in their house by the ghost of Odette. Lara sees things moving. A ghost version of Edson convinces his sister Cica to look into the oven late one night only to be dragged in by some sort of Odette demon. For Edson’s birthday his father pulls the old “secret giant present” trick which is the scooter Edson always wanted, but inside the box is not what he expected. Instead it’s a bloody spine which has gone missing from the morgue.
The second act continues with the ghost story aspect of the movie, but the third act takes a humongous left turn in a completely different and insane direction.
Stenio follows the voice of Odette in the morgue who leads him to a secluded area. There she appears, her head floating in a jar. He asks what he can do to be rid of her.
“Kill her. Bleed the whore Lara who’s in my house or I’ll take the children to be with their mommy.”
Just when you start thinking a movie cannot get anymore dark and insane, it does. Driven by his need to protect his family, Stenio takes a knife and goes to kill Lara. Just as he is about to, an incoming call to her cell phone distracts him. The call is from a doctor informing Lara her sick Mother has passed. Stenio and Lara go to the hospital and the Mother tells Stenio he’s cursed and to keep his curse away from her Daughter. She also tells him that to get rid of Odette’s spirit he must destroy everything of hers. Determined, he collects everything in the house of Odettes and burns it in the backyard to rid himself of her evil spirit.
But this is a dark depressing movie, it can’t have a happy ending, can it? Nope, it doesn’t as there is one thing Stenio doesn’t rid the house of, Odette’s ring which Lara one-night places on her finger.
Now I cannot in good conscience spoil the end of this movie. She found the ring and put it on, I’ve said enough!
“Oh, let me guess Bud, it’s probably that Odette kills Lara and the movie ends with Stenio crying over her body”
“Ok, Ok, Odette possesses Lara and kills the kids?”
My lips are sealed. Just know there are three unexpected twists. Some very terrifying, edge of your seat, nail biting moments. There’s gore, like nasty, make your skin crawl gore. Haunting spooky imagery and jump scares galore. And lastly, the saddest, most depressing, dark and macabre ending of a horror movie that I’ve seen in a while. This is a depressing movie, there is no joy at all and the ending cements that fact. Overall, this will go down as one of the best horror movies of the decade with ease. Shudder knows how to pick ‘em. I am super excited what this new director has to offer with his future releases, but I can tell you this, it will be hard to top The Nightshifter. 5 out of 5
Go watch The Nightshifter now streaming on Shudder