This review is going to contain spoilers for Nightmare Gallery, if you don’t want to get spoiler’d, well tough.
An attempt to build a horror atmosphere with lovecraftian tones.
We follow Amber Benson (Tara from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), as college Professor Samantha Rand, dealing with the aftermath of their Teaching Assistant Sanjay vanish on them three years previously.
From there she pretty much can’t give up looking for the guy, right up to the point of refusing to take another Assistant despite being overwhelmed.
Then a box, filled with clues and puzzles arrives, allowing Samantha to finally start working out what happened or rather it doesn’t, the box contains objects and trinkets that don’t really answer any questions, a “reverse image search” assists Samantha in finding an asylum inmate who drew the same symbol.
From there, we have a bunch of dream sequences that berate Samantha for not knowing things that she doesn’t know, whilst pushing her to keep working, under the theme of being both awake and asleep.
In the end, we get taken to a museum where Sanjay has been, with some hand waved comment about having been there for a decade, while it’s only been 3 years outside.
Tara sees her wife lying in a pool of blood, rejects the quest for knowledge, forces a touching moment with Sanjay and then.. we see sometime later, Samantha is now insane and locked in a padded room, mumbling about the price of knowledge is everything.
So, that’s the basics, let’s do the review bit.
Let’s start with the technical aspects, the shooting on this film is amateurish, with shots that barely have any thought to them, basic angles and suboptimal lighting.
Dream sequences are done with coloured lighting that’s intended to give things a surreal element, but honestly it’s just not enough, it barely touches on its intended purpose.
Acting is subpar, and the editing really doesn’t help, giving lingering pauses before wooden lines are delivered.
The biggest disappointment in acting comes from Samantha in the finale, making her emotional plea to the Sanjay, her tears just come across as empty so it lacks any real impact.
Then we have the plotline, there’s an attempt to make a lovecraftian story here, where the pursuit of knowledge dooms us all and honestly, I love that concept.
The problem here however, is how badly it is done.
The search for Sanjay only gains traction because of a rather generous reverse image search (which ignores how the technology actually works).
The student who pushes Samantha in the search for Sanjay continually acts suspicious but that doesn’t go anywhere.
After a seemingly possessed Sanjay tries completing the ceremony to bring some otherwordly “teacher” through a portal, Samantha decides to appeal to his emotions to make him stop, and it works but it doesn’t work for us, and you want to know why? As an audience we’ve seen no evidence of any real connection between the two characters, we have been told that they’re close but all we have seen about it, is Samantha’s obsession over finding Sanjay 3 years on, we don’t see anything that backs up the connection between the two so we don’t see the emotional impact of Samantha’s words.
Then the film ends with us seeing Samantha corrupted the same way Sanjay was corrupted in the final fight, we see her ranting, raving, insane and I tell you I hate the ending, she has fallen to the same ailment, corruption but we get this only as a final “shock” ending, it is weak and comes out of nowhere, it owuld be much better, make more sense if instead her journey twisted her experience of reality so she can no longer function as a normal person, but that’s not what have been given, unfortunately.
All in all, I think the Nightmare Gallery had potential, but squandered it, I can not recommend this film in any way.