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“Nail In The Coffin: The Fall And Rise Of Vampiro” Follows The Redemption Of A Potentially Tragic Figure

Pro wrestlers often lead tragic lives. That’s just sort of baked into the cake of professional wrestling. The athletes live hard, indulge often times in various substances, and simply don’t have a particularly long life expectancy. Those who live to be old men and women are in the minority. Even seeing those who have triumphed over the sort of adversity that takes down so many of their colleagues is noteworthy. That’s what makes the documentary Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro so interesting, as this is truly about the fall, but also the rise, of a wrestler who could have been just another statistic.

The documentary is about Ian Hodgkinson, better known as his wrestling alter ego Vampiro. Looking into the legendary career of Hodgkinson’s wrestling persona, Vampiro, the doc is far more concerned with who he is as a person, as opposed to just what he was like as a character. Observing as he grapples with his demons and life both before and after a brush with fame (including his ill-fated stint with World Championship Wrestling), he’s incredibly candid, always saying what’s on his mind. Focusing both on how he can remain a part of the wrestling game, as well as being the father his daughter Dasha deserves, we watch as Hodgkinson very much bares his soul. It’s always engaging, to say the least. Michael Paszt writes and directs, with cinematography by Pasha Patriki.

A big part of what makes this doc work is how interesting Ian Hodgkinson himself is. An extreme wrestling figure, he’s also a dedicated promoter of the sport, a loving father, and very frank. You get a really good sense of who he is, especially in sequences with his daughter. Dasha Hodgkinson. Filmmaker Michael Paszt keeps the focus on Ian (and a fair amount of Ian and Dasha), really hammering home the difference between the Vampiro character and the dad that Hodgkinson is. In fact, the other talking heads only serve to distract from the more successful story at hand. Paszt rightly recognizes that Hodgkinson’s redemption is tied into his daughter, so leaning into it is the absolute correct move. At a brisk 88 minutes, the pacing is tight, keeping with our protagonist as he muses on his past, as well as discusses what kind of a future he has/the one he wouldn’t have had if things hadn’t changed.

Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro works so well as a character study, it wouldn’t be shocking for an enterprising producer to look at it as material for a biopic. With out the overt tragedy that defines so many of his fellow wrestlers, Hodgkinson represents a person that Hollywood may want to showcase as a cinematic hero. I have no idea if this will ever happen (that’s way above my pay grade), but it makes a surprising amount of sense.

Already in select theaters, Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro hits On Demand tomorrow. Wrestling fans will really enjoy this look at a man who never really got the chance to be the international superstar he could have been. Even if you don’t care about professional wrestling in the slightest, it’s still a compelling character study and human tale. Give it a shot and you just might be won over by Ian Hodgkinson and his personal story. It’s one that Hollywood may well want to give a look towards adapting.

Be sure to check out Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro, out in theaters now and on VOD tomorrow!

(Photos courtesy of Epic Pictures)

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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