The age-old story of the tussle between good and evil is famous in pop culture. As the protagonists of these stories are always meant to be clinched, their victory over evil, in the end, gives us, the audience, some validation to overcome our doubts and carry on with our existence no matter how dark it may seem. Nefarious is a simple story of good vs evil. And to portray this conundrum, the directors Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman take the template of a thriller.

While the treatment looks good first-hand, the statement they try to make seems literal and uneven. Also, when makers decide to make a dialogue-heavy film, they must first take care of good dialogue. The dialogues are too repetitive and slow down the film’s pace, even leading it to stagnation at specific critical points in the movie. The film also suffers from a loose third act, which, coupled with the attempt to spoon-feed everything in the end, makes the film more redundant. 

With all those negative aspects aside, the film can be watched for the performance of the lead actor, Sean Patrick Flanery.  In the following article, I want to discuss the film in more detail. So, you are warned not to read it any further if spoilers are not your thing. 

Nefarious (2023) Plot Summary and Movie Synopsis:

Following the tragic suicide of renowned psychiatrist Dr. Fischer, a young and confident Dr. James Martin is assigned to evaluate death-row inmate Edward Wayne Brady at a prison facility. The resemblance of Edward’s name to “The Killer Clown,” John Wayne Gacy, seems intentional, suggesting the creators’ intention to portray Edward as a reincarnation of Gacy. James faces the challenging task of conducting a comprehensive psychological assessment of Edward to determine his mental fitness for execution or possible insanity.

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Despite Edward’s involvement in six murders, there are indications in his behavioral patterns that raise suspicions of his sanity. Although the warden initially dismisses the need for a psychiatric evaluation, James is committed to fulfilling his duty and enters the restricted area where Edward is restrained to a table.

During their interaction, Edward reveals two crucial pieces of information to James: firstly, he claims to be a demon possessing Edward’s body, and secondly, he predicts that James will have killed three people before the night is over. Initially, James dismisses Edward’s delusions about being a creature from the underworld called ‘Nefarious,’ regardless of Edward’s frantic reaction upon seeing a priest.

James allows Edward to inhabit his body temporarily if it allows him to communicate with the real Edward. However, when Nefarious fails to possess James, the true Edward emerges. He is depicted as a weak, stuttering, crying, twitching, and deeply traumatized individual who believes he is being punished for Nefarious’s crimes. As James continues his conversation with the distressed Edward, Nefarious resurfaces, indicating that it is time to conclude their dialogue.

James’s nonchalant attitude towards Edward’s nonsensical claims is shattered when Edward, the death-row inmate who has been present throughout, accuses James of orchestrating his mother’s murder. A decade ago, James’s mother was terminally ill and suffering, so James chose euthanasia to relieve her pain. However, Edward, or Nefarious, believes that James was motivated by his mother’s wealth.

Amidst his ramblings, Nefarious claims that James was brought here because he was destined to be a messenger for “them” and spread their master’s teachings worldwide. According to Nefarious, he is one of the countless minions of Lucifer, the fallen angel, and it is now James’s responsibility to propagate Lucifer’s message since the “carpenter” (referring to the Son of God) rejected the offer. Nefarious expresses his intention to abandon Edward’s body and face the electric chair, describing in gruesome detail how the execution will be a fitting welcome into hell for Edward.

Increasingly disturbed by the inmate’s disturbing revelations, James is about to leave when Nefarious inquires about the whereabouts and activities of James’s girlfriend. He proceeds to describe in detail how she is undergoing an abortion at that very moment, suggesting that James does not wish to become a father. Unbeknownst to the prisoner, James has committed a second murder. Nefarious rejoices in the belief that James’s unborn child is now in hell, prompting the psychiatrist to rush out to make a phone call, only to discover that his girlfriend has just undergone the procedure.

It is important to note that the perspective of this movie shamelessly promotes right-wing propaganda, condemning practices such as euthanasia and abortion as contrary to religious teachings. The creators make a deliberate effort to equate human actions with evil due to advancements in science and the resulting choices available today, choices that were not possible two centuries ago. The film disregards the fact that decisions such as choosing to end one’s life to alleviate pain and suffering or a woman deciding not to have a child are personal choices and matters of individual agency, where religion should not have a say. However, it appears that the directors, Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon, aim to portray James as a murderer due to his perceived complicity in two deaths.

As the pressure mounts on James to reach a decision, he experiences emotional turmoil. The warden summons James to Edward’s cell, where he unveils an entire journal documenting intricate details about James’s life, along with a substantial manuscript titled “I, Nefarious.” Upon returning to question Edward about the book, James finds himself strangled by the inmate, who momentarily relinquishes control to Nefarious, punishes himself by snapping his finger, and then swiftly fixes it. Despite the previously suggestive symptoms of dissociative identity disorder, James is coerced by the warden’s presence to declare Edward mentally sane and endorse the execution. Nefarious taunts James, claiming that he has just committed his third murder of the night.

With only moments remaining until the execution, Edward pleads, cries, and begs the warden to reconsider, while a crowd gathers outside the execution room to witness his demise. James sits beside a detective who has pursued Edward for years. Just before Edward is executed, Nefarious emerges once again and questions James about his decision. James defiantly refuses to serve Nefarious’s master, and as predicted by Nefarious, a hundred thousand volts of electricity surge through Edward’s body twice, precisely as described. The moment the doctor declares Edward dead, James hears Nefarious’s voice and momentarily descends into madness. He attempts to take his own life by pulling the detective’s gun’s trigger three times, but the weapon fails to fire.

Nefarious (2023) Movie Ending Explained:

Why Does Dr. James Martin Write the Book?

In the end, we see that Dr. James Martin has written a book from the original manuscript found in Brady’s cell one year after the incident. Brady claimed Nefarious made him write the manuscript, which would become the demon’s manifesto. The devil, Nefarious, wanted James to publish and promote the book. But after the incident in prison, James becomes more and more of a believer in the supernatural (God or demon), and as a warning to the people, he rewrites the manuscript.

He is a guest on a famous talk show to promote the book. There he explains why it is essential to acknowledge these things. In his words, a battle is ongoing between the good and evil. And we are all participants in it whether we want to be or not. So, his intention in writing this book is not to make everyone a believer but to raise caution against the temptations the demon wants us to succumb to.

Who is the Woman Outside the Studio?

As the shooting for the talk show ends, James emerges from the studio and sees a middle age black woman ragpicker collecting plastic bottles from a trash bin. Out of empathy, he gives her some money and starts going on his way. But suddenly, the lady utters his name in a husky voice. James turns back and becomes stunned as she asks him if he has missed ‘him.’

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It signifies that the demon possesses the middle-aged ragpicker lady and has chased down James. Now, he will take his revenge on him for not accepting his offer of owning his body. Though it is unclear about the ultimate fate of James in the end, we assume the demon, at last, gets James.

Read More: To Catch a Killer (2023) Movie Ending Explained – Who was the real killer?

Nefarious (2023) Movie Trailer

Nefarious (2023) Movie Links – IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
Nefarious (2023) Movie Cast – Sean Patrick Flanery, Jordan Belfi, Tom Ohmer
Where to watch Nefarious

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