Nefarious: Is Evil a Diagnosis? - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Nefarious: Is Evil a Diagnosis?
The trailer for “Nefarious” (Rapid Trailer/YouTube)

Think The Silence of the Lambs mixed with The Exorcist and Primal Fear. Blend and stir in some The Screwtape Letters with modern disbelief. The result? A gripping new movie that lives up to its hype: Nefarious.

The plot is simple. A supposed sociopathic murderer named Edward Wayne Brady (Sean Patrick Flanery) is now locked in prison chains and awaiting interrogation. We learn that he’s not insane but rather a demon, Nefarious, who wants to die in the electric chair to flee his current host.

Enter psychiatrist Dr. James Martin (Jordan Belfi), a professed atheist sent to make a final call on Brady’s sanity and thus his life or death. Nefarious instead claims to have chosen Martin and predicts that he will soon commit three murders.

Therein lies the hook.

A battle ensues, mostly with harsh words and minimal violence, but more importantly with spiritual wills. Nefarious (in Latin, “Nefarium”) claims that he has disposed of his prior psychiatrist through suicide and reveals that he did not choose Dr. Martin for his resume or expertise. Rather, it was at the direction of Nefarious’s boss, a la The Screwtape Letters.

Sean Patrick Flanery performs a mercurial character with tics and bipolar outbursts to express a “legion” of demons rippling through one tortured, pitiful man. Jordan Belfi (Dr. Martin) plays a good guy who is slightly naive. Tom Ohmer, James Healy Jr., and Cameron Arnett round out a solid supporting cast.

Adapted from the bestselling book A Nefarious Plot by Steve Deace, the movie achieves what so few films can do with speech and ideas: entrap you in a war of the soul.

The film, like a one-act play, focuses on a core conflict unpacked through words and exposed in Dr. Martin’s tragic lesson: a man must judge himself before he can judge others.

Written sharply, and without being preachy or heavy-handed, Nefarious is also a commentary on the spirit of this age. Dr. Martin, who defends modern times, claims, “We have never been freer.” He points out that literacy is at an all-time high and states that “we’re working to eliminate racism, tolerance, and gender inequality.… People can love who they want. Be who they want.” He finishes with, “Politically, we are reclaiming the moral high ground.”

Nefarious, snickering at Martin’s virtue-signaling, blows out a series of retorts regarding the contemporary world, and draws attention to “basketball players making $30 million a year decrying racism, wearing sneakers made from slave labor.”

He continues, “Your world has 40 million slaves, more than the Romans had at the height of their empire!” And the best part, for him: “Half are sex slaves.” As for “hate speech,” Nefarious admiringly confesses that this was solely a human invention.

Nefarious does not hide or hesitate, rather it rips the scab off of modern assumptions about how the psycho-spiritual world works.

The film confronts its audience: Could you stare down a demon in your current moral standing? Do you have the nerve to play atheist or nonbeliever when evil looks you in the eye?

Nefarious knows your past, your falsities and public masks, your lack of courage and conviction, and possibly how you’ve taken your weaknesses out on others.

He knows everything about you, and he’s done his homework. Are you prepared for the encounter?

When you get to the theater on April 14, I suggest that, with your popcorn and a promotional-sized box of M&Ms, you bring a bottle of holy water and a pastor or priest.

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