For some reason or another the undead girlfriend sub-genre of horror keeps coming back from the grave recently. With Life After Beth and Burying the Ex along with other examples so far luckily these films have all been brilliant blends of horror romance and comedy. However how long can it be till we are sick of the stench of rotting ex’s?
British writing and directing brothers Ben and Chris Blaine hope you have room for at least one more example in Nina Forever especially as they take a slightly more serious approach to the idea of being haunted by your long dead lover.
Holly (Abigail Hardingham) is a paramedic student who when not at Uni spends her time working in a dead end job at a supermarket where the only relief from mind numbing boredom is her obsessive crush on co-worker Rob (Cian Barry).
Moody and mysterious the rumor is that Rob had attempted suicide after becoming unable to cope with the loss of his girlfriend Nina (Utopia’s Fiona O’Shaughnessy) who died in a car crash.
Convinced she could be the one to bring him back to life and love and make him forget all about his putrefying paramour Holly and Rob start up an intense relationship hitting it off straight away and seeming to be the perfect pair.
Wanting to take things to the next level the couple plan a night of romance at Rob’s flat but when things get intimate and move into the bedroom they receive a disturbing surprise.
Rising through the white sheets bloodied and busted up Nina appears next to them in a disgusting and terrifying act of coitus interruptus reclaiming Rob and forcing Holly out of the flat in fright.
Holly is not the sort of girl that gives up easily even if Nina is back from the dead and so begins a strange and surreal three-way relationship as she tries any and everything to rid the undead ex from their lives but it seems the harder she tries the more Nina takes hold forcing the gore covered love triangle into much darker places than anyone can control.
What works well about Nina Forever is its very adult look at love and relationships not only in the explicit yet completely integrated and integral nudity and sex scenes but also in the attitudes and themes that cleverly explore the complex dynamic every couple faces being forced to dealing with past romantic history when starting out with a new partner.
Having Rob’s dead lover literally come between them brings to the surface all Holly’s insecurities and through her valiant attempts to overcome Nina which included not only eradicating all traces of her but also integrating her into their sex life, we see the psychological process played out that everyone of us has gone through at some point facing the demons of the past.
There is also an interesting examination of grief within the film as Rob tries to come to terms with what is happening. Trapped between moving on or dwelling on his loss the speaking specter of which keeps appearing in his bedroom the conflict causes even more stress on him and Holly compounded by his codependent visits to Nina’s parents.
All of this is well directed and wonderfully scripted and acted and the two leads Abigail Hardingham and Cian Barry give brilliant and brave performances that deserve a great amount of credit.
Sadly there is a massive fault in Nina Forever and it is Nina herself.
As mentioned the movie takes a far more thoughtful and edgy look at the situation others have played purely for laughs however in creating the character of Nina the Blaine Brothers have decided she should be the comic relief which is a complete misstep in my opinion and ruins the film much in the same way her character ruins the central relationship.
The issue lies in her dialogue which is full of terrible naff clichéd one liners related to her undead situation turning her from a creepy supernatural simile into something from Carry on Screaming.
Fiona O’Shaughnessy plays the role with aplomb but in her broken boned blood soaked hands Nina is a grating humorless pretentious Goth girl dealing out trite sarcastic shtick who you would happily kill a million times over again to get rid of her.
Of course comedy is necessary in such an emotional and affecting script and Nina does become more malevolent at the films climax however her comedy characterization for me it is a giant mistake. Nina should be not only a terrifying entity but also a powerful linchpin for the entire story and its themes yet her dull and flaccid jokes not only failed to entertain me but spoiled the rest of the film.
With an amazing amount of potential it is a pity the Blaine Brothers missed out making a masterpiece but they are definitely a duo to look out for in the future. Perhaps you will disagree with my criticisms and regardless of my misgivings I thoroughly recommend this film as I truly hope audiences can get along with Nina where I failed.