Watch the trailer for The Glass Man
One day in September 2011, a 1,000-strong audience of horror nuts sat down at the Empire cinema, Leicester Square, to watch a low budget movie screening as part of the annual FrightFest film festival.
The chatter that followed The Glass Man was almost uniformly glowing, with critics heaping praise on Andy Nyman’s turn as a man who, in a moment of financial desperation, teams up with a menacing money-lender, after he offers to wipe his debt in exchange for help with a secret errand.
With reviews as enthusiastic as The Glass Man was getting, everyone was expecting big things of it. Except the movie has remained unseen since that day.
Until now, that is.
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“It got tangled in legal nonsense,” says Andy Nyman, nine years from The Glass Man’s only public screening.
“So you'd had this situation where the film premiered to tremendous reviews and response, and then it couldn't do anything, it was just locked up.
“But here we are, with this digital release. It’s fantastic that people finally get to see it, because the thousand or so people that saw it on the day at the Empire, it’s become a bit of a ‘Did you see, have you ever seen…’ kind of thing.”
It’s not unusual for completed films to be stuck in limbo (Nyman has another, a star-packed adaptation of Anthony Bourdain’s Bone In The Throat that was made in 2015, that remains unreleased), but few are so undeserving of that fate as The Glass Man. A genuine under-the-radar gem, it’s not a horror as such, but an intense psychological drama with a palpable sense of dread running through it, not to mention a killer twist.
For Nyman, it was a dream part. At the beginning of the movie, we discover that Martin has been sacked for reasons unknown, but whatever it is, it’s clearly bad enough for him to be persona non grata at his old office. Drowning in debt, the film is very much about what happens to men, in particular, when their lives come crashing down around them.
“It felt important, because men's mental health wasn't an agenda then,” he says. “It was around that time that they were beginning to realise the suicide numbers on men were just ridiculously, disproportionately high. Also, we were going into a bit of a recession, so the two things seem to really line up. But I think the movie’s gained the sort of gravitas in the past decade as you're allowed to talk about those things now in a way you couldn't previously.”
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Writer and director Cristian Solimeno specifically wrote the lead role of Martin for Nyman, having been mates since working together on the big screen adaptation of Martin Amis’ Dead Babies back in 2000. Along with fellow cast members James Cosmo and Neve Campbell, they filmed the movie guerilla-style, largely while working on other projects. “We just sort of fitted it in,” Nyman says. “You know, weekends, and the odd stolen days.”
Scream star Neve Campbell’s role as Martin’s wife came about as she was living in London at the time.
“Our paths had crossed a couple of times,” says Nyman. “Then out of the blue I got this message from her saying, ‘I've been asked to do this tiny budget film and I'm going to do it because I want to work with you.’ I though, f***ing hell, that is so amazing!”
Nyman only has praise too for James Cosmo, who brings both menace and a surprising tenderness to the part of the mysterious debt collector, known only as Pecco.
“He’s brilliant in the film,” he enthuses. “I gotta tell you, when he barks an order at you, f*** me, your body shakes. There’s one shot, when we're in the kitchen, and he's saying to me, ‘Yes or no?’, and then he barks, ‘YES OR NO?!’ Well, not only is my jump absolutely real, but watch it back, because the camera jumps too, because the cameraman jumped. Jimmy’s like a Norse god or something, he’s f***king unbelievable.”
Nyman is clearly happy that the movie is finally seeing the light of day. But he’s also aware that, even though it’s now out there, it’s important that people start talking about the movie, lest it get lost in the digital fog.
“Even on the God of them, Netflix, there's just a suffocation of choice,” he says. “These big things come out and then you're like, oh, yeah, and then it just disappears into the quicksand. Jeremy and I look at the release we've got for Ghost Stories and we just pinch ourselves.”
Ghost Stories, for the uninitiated, was the movie that Nyman penned with The League Of Gentlemen’s Jeremy Dyson in 2017, based on their critically acclaimed stage play. An old-school, portmanteau-styled horror, it won the pair rave reviews.
“We've just finished our next film script,” he reveals. “We’ve been writing away like crazy. I can't say too much at the moment, but it is another horror film. In some respects, there are similarities to Ghost Stories, but they're completely different. We’re very, very excited by it.”
As Nyman knows from The Glass Man, however, it’s one thing to finish a script, and another to actually make it, but that’s not always enough in itself.
“As difficult as making a movie is, that's the easy part,” he laughs. “Getting it out there and getting it seen – that’s the challenge!”
The Glass Man will be available on Sky Store, Apple TV, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube and Amazon from 7 December.