Nympha (DVD Review)7 Sep, 2008 By: David Greenberg
Rated 'R' for bloody violent content, disturbing images, sexuality/nudity and brief language.
Stars Tiffany Shepis, Allan McKenna, Michael Segal, Alessandra Guerzoni, Caterina Zanca, Giuseppe Gobbato, Francesco Primavera.
Italian indie horror auteur/director/cinematographer/editor Ivan Zuccon's latest film, Nympha, is more likely to please loyal fans of his work than it is to transform his detractors.
However, fans of indie horror icon Shepis are in for a treat — a rich, gutsy performance that might even exceed the expectations of her most fervent followers. Together, the two have combined to make a challenging, draining and frightening film that is not for the weak of heart or mind.
In a case of what might be called self-imposed tough love, Shepis' Sarah travels to a remote convent in Italy where she seeks to wash away her sins by undergoing a rigorous, at times almost sadistic theological transformation into a nun, dedicating to depriving herself in order to fully serve the Lord. A young woman with a checkered past, Sarah shocks the Mother Superior when she reveals a tattoo that she refers to as a remnant of the life she wishes to leave behind.
Aggressive removal of a full body of skin art might seem like a piece of cake compared to the extreme mental and physical torture Sarah undergoes, a series of four steps in which she must learn to "hear" the Lord, "see" the Lord, "touch" the Lord and "talk" with the Lord. This leads to a state of such psychological and spiritual anguish that she is susceptible to an invasion by the spirit of a young woman who lived on the same property and suffered similar abuse long before the location became a convent.
Inventively produced but clearly shot on a modest budget, the claustrophobic mood and overall unpleasant tone of the film appropriately mirrors the plight of the protagonist, resulting in a piece that is consistently grim and uncomfortable to watch.