First and foremost, it’s important to mention that Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro is not necessarily a movie about wrestling — it’s actually a compelling story that focuses on the themes of family and perseverance. Directed by Michael Paszt in his feature debut, it is quite an impressive film. Making a documentary is not easy, especially one that mainly tells the story of a wrestler. But you don’t even have to be a wrestling fan in order to appreciate the film. After its Canadian premiere at the Festival du nouveau cinéma, this is a terrific and emotional behind-the-scenes look of what it’s like to be in this particular industry.
Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro revolves around a man named Ian Hodgkinson who is best known as the wrestling star Vampiro. His backstory is quite complex, as he’s been dealing with personal issues such as an abusive childhood, street violence, and depression for his whole life. He even admits that he never thought of becoming a wrestler in the first place. You really get to see that it’s a gruelling and painful process as he has suffered from lots of injuries in his body. However, the main thing that the film wants you to focus on is his relationship with his daughter Dasha. As mentioned in the intro of this review, it really is a documentary about family, and it’s quite touching.
Paszt does not hesitate to show you the harsh reality of wrestling when you’re seeing the film. All the fights shown on screen are extremely brutal, and it’s heartbreaking to see him go through these traumatic moments from his life. While it is admittedly hard to watch sometimes, it does make you connect with Hodgkinson on a personal and emotional level. One of the main themes is that having a job can be both a blessing and a curse. He is grateful that wrestling has changed his life in some way, but he still wants to get rid of it at the same time. Anyone can relate to the fact that having a job can change our lives for better or for worse, and it’s all about the repercussions that we must eventually face in the future. Hodgkinson is someone who truly showcases the crucial value of perseverance.
Also, the bond that he shares with Dasha is easily the most memorable part of the entire movie. From start to finish, Hodgkinson is willing to genuinely be as truthful as he can be when speaking to the audience. He is not afraid to show how much he loves his daughter, and you still feel his struggle of balancing both his duties as a father and a wrestler, which is an aspect that the filmmakers show really well throughout.
Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro is one of the biggest surprises of the year. This is a fantastic feature debut from Michael Paszt, and I can’t wait to see what he does next as a filmmaker. It really separates Hodgkinson from Vampiro, and you can see that they’re two completely different people. Even if the film does show a lot of wrestling, don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s just a documentary about that sport. This is an engaging and emotional film that will be sure to inspire many people to work hard and be more connected with their family.