Starring: Tiffany Shepis, Caroline De Cristofaro
Directed By: Ivan Zuccon
Written By: Ivo Gazzarrini
Nympha is a horror film that deals with religion, yet in a completely frightening way really taking out any and any light. The roles are reversed and it gives us a very chilling, terrifying, and ultimately depressing situation. We are forced to question morality that is commonly given to certain roles and types of people, some of which clearly aren’t always true.
Sarah (Shepis) is ready to start a new life, a life that she is devoting to God. She does this by starting her path to becoming a nun. She is stripped of all of her belongings and is forced to leave the outside world. Sarah is learns just what her new world will entail. She may only speak and live for God and God alone. The nuns tell her that she has to prove herself; that she is truly committed to the work of God. Sarah had no idea what it would take to prove this though.
The nunnery’s doctor comes in and starts his medical examination where he starts her torture treatment. The next day she wakes up drenched with blood, particularly coming from her ears, causing her hearing to be defected. She is told that this will only bring her closer to the lord. A few days pass and it is time for the next step; burning her eyes and inducing bleeding. This continues as every few days another part of her body is hacked away at, putting her in almost unbearable amounts of pain. In between all of the physical violence, her mind is having violent images shoved in, frightening her even more.
The images follow the past of Nympha (Cristofaro), a young and very scared girl. Nympha’s grandfather is a very religious man and he tries to act on his beliefs. After getting in a fight with his neighbor, claiming that it is neither of their land since it belongs to God, he attacks him and brings him to his attic. It turns out his neighbor isn’t the only dead body he has in there. Nympha grows up fearing that attack to the point of literally driving her insane, constantly having nightmares and hallucinations, many of which include her grandfather. Nympha and Sarah are both fighting the horror around them, but the odds may be too strong for them to fight.
Tiffany Shepis truly carries the film and although there are many good things about the movie, without the performance she gave it would not have been the same. Shepis shows us emotion and conveys depth through someone who has had a past that she wants to move on from. Sarah is simply trying to make a fresh start and is willing to give up her whole world all in the name of God. Yet she is taken advantage of and scarred repeatedly so painfully and brutally that it turns her away from all of the good that she was trying to accomplish. Sara begins believing in religion so much that she is willing to give every waking moment to it, but in the end is wronged so heavily supposedly in the name of God, that she loses her faith and can’t help but be infuriated by God for letting such horrible things happen to her.
Caroline De Cristofaro played the inner Sarah, the woman going through horrors that Sarah was shown in her mind while she was suffering from the environment around her. Cristofaro shows that she is completely terrified and overwhelmed. The fright in her face really tells us that she truly has no real hope and is just dreading the evil that she knows will get her in the end.
Visually, Nympha does a lot to mystify itself. There are a lot of green and dark shades played with in the lighting. The environment is very secluded and there is a very unsettling mood. It is cold and empty since everything Sarah knows has been taken away from her. This also serves as a metaphor since everyone around Sarah who should be caring is coldhearted. All of the physical and mental torture she has endured has made her empty inside. She is stripped of everything including faith and strength.
Sarah, although our main character, doesn’t have a lot of dialogue. Most of what is spoken is what is being fed in to Sarah’s head through the visions. Throughout most of the movie there is a stillness that makes the film very uncomfortable. The Nuns basically rip out and torment Sarah’s senses. They do this because they tell her she doesn’t need her senses anymore, but only her soul. It is this and all of the claims of these terrible horrors supposedly in the name of God and just how powerless Sarah is that is the most infuriating. Sarah clearly can’t do anything. Hope has escaped her just as it has the slightly more verbal and frantic, Nympha. The two are so helpless and it is really hard to stand what is happening, sending an urge straight to the audience to do something about what is happening, yet we find that we are just as powerless as our protagonists making the injustice all the worse since we are put in their position.
Nuns, doctors, and family: all people who are there to be there for us, help us, or make the world a better place, revert to evil and are completely immoral. They refuse to admit this and cling on to the reputations of their roles claiming it is for good when that couldn’t be farther from the truth. There is quite a bit of hypocrisy going on alongside of this, making them even more immoral. One of the nuns apparently has secretly been having sex with the doctor who after torturing Sarah wanted to take her home. The two constantly fight and belittle the other, clearly there is no love involved. Nympha’s grandfather murders in the name of God. As if that is not bad enough, he is also molests his victims, stripping the innocence away from them. He continually forces his family to suffer far more than they deserve.
There is a great stillness in the film that keeps us desperate to find out the rest of the story and see if there is such a thing as salvation in the world we are watching. The film really isn’t attacking any religion. It is even stated that the Catholic church doesn’t support them, although there are a number of religious leaders and figures that do support their methods. The very ending of the film is really the ultimate religious reference as Sarah has passed the stages yet is still suffering. She is standing in the shape of a cross as the blood splatters. The people who were doing this were not women of God; they were nothing more than ruthless monsters who simply told themselves what they wished to believe. Through religion Nympha is able to show that deception, lies, and viciousness can be hiding anywhere. The film also makes an example of taking anything to such an extreme that it becomes the opposition of what it set out to be and turns in to something completely destructive and purely evil. Nympha is a very dark and depressing film that shows corrupted good gone bad and sick and twisted immorality that is troubling to watch, but utterly captivating.