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Review: Nest


- Mattia Temponi’s first work is a zombie film explicitly referencing the Covid-fuelled lockdown and hovering between genre movie and metaphor

Review: Nest
Luciano Cáceres and Blu Yoshimi in Nest

In the fullness of time, when Covid-19 has been replaced by another global emergency (most likely involving the climate), we’ll be able to take stock of the audiovisual works inspired by lockdown. Turin-based Mattia Temponi first got the idea for Nest [+see also:
interview: Mattia Temponi
film profile
– screening in a world premiere and competing for the Méliès award at the Trieste Science+Fiction Festival – long before the health crisis made an appearance, turning it into a screenplay alongside Gabriele Gallo and Mattia Puleo, basing it on the very many zombie horror/sci-fi films populating the film world - stretching back from Victor Halperin to those of the present day - and lending this first work of his a psychological and authorial edge which resonates with forms of female resistance and a post-feminist counter-narrative.

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Indeed, the protagonist of this story is young Sara, played by actress Blu Yoshimi whose star is slowly rising, an Italian from a middle-class family in an unspecified South American country who wakes up one day to find herself a guest in a “nest” having been bitten by a zombie. She’d been at school when the alarm went off, warning of an attack by infected individuals who were contaminating the town (and likely the entire world). The “nest” is a safe haven equipped with all the modern-day creature comforts, which is advertised on TV in the film’s opening images as if it were a holiday destination. Looking after her in the four-roomed bunker (the entire film was shot on the Videa Studios soundstage in Rome) is a volunteer named Ivan, played by Luciano Cáceres, a 44-year-old Argentine actor with considerable film experience under his belt (mostly known for the musical soap opera Patito Feo (Il mondo di Patty) but who has also starred in dozens of theatrical pieces). Ivan’s job is to “terminate” the girl whose fate is now sealed as a result of her incurable bite wound. But for some strange reason, which we only understand at the end of the film, this volunteer allows Sara to stay alive, not worrying himself over the young woman’s transformation into an undeniably cannibalistic monster.

Temponi moves the camera skilfully within the cramped space of this “nest” - designed by the brilliant Giada Calabria - conveying the protagonist’s sense of claustrophobic angst. Trapped within a pseudo-paternal relationship awash with toxic undertones, all young Sara can do is try to fight back and cry out: “I’m still a human being”. The titular nest speaks of the family unit as a manipulative and abusive setting, while the dialogues between the two protagonists hint at topical themes such as gay marriage, the flow of migrants and terrorist information. Hovering between a genre film and a work of introspection, the film might disappoint zombie movie fans hoping for a real horrific impact, though it could appeal to audiences more interested in the psychological facets of fear and in explicit metaphors for social conflict.

Nest is a co-production between Italy and Argentina, courtesy of Alba Produzioni and 3C Films Goup, which enjoys the support of the Italian Ministry of Culture’s Film and Audiovisual Department, Ibermedia and the Lazio Region. International sales are entrusted to Spanish firm Film Factory.

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(Translated from Italian)

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