Do we ever truly “get over” the untimely demise of a loved one? How does one begin the healing process if they were directly responsible for that loved one’s untimely demise? Does guilt have a statute of limitations?
These are the sort of questions that will no doubt rumble through your head as you watch Nina Forever, a dark, smart, sobering, anti-romantic horror story that the producers happily describe as “a fucked-up fairy tale.” Written and directed by British brothers Chris and Ben Blaine, Nina Forever is a gruesome and frequently rather darkly erotic dramatic thriller that may wear its subtext on its sleeve – but it still manages to offer some fascinating food for thought along with some memorably disturbing moments of visceral creepiness.
Rob (Cian Barry) is haunted by the memories of an accident that took the life of his beloved Nina (Fiona O’Shaughnessy), but finds himself a (potential) new girlfriend in Holly (Abigail Hardingham), and together they begin that tentative, awkward dance that most new couples have to deal with. But once the ice has been fully broken and Rob and Holly find themselves in bed together, that’s when Nina decides to make her return. Not as a misty spectre or as a voice from the attic, either. Nope. The still very-much-dead Nina simply emerges out of the very mattress on which Rob and Holly are presently mating, much to the shocked dismay of all parties involved.
Thus begins a “three-way” relationship involving a guilt-ridden man, a tough but unexpectedly open-minded woman, and a very tenacious corpse who seems to be fueled by little more than rage, jealousy, and (ahem) carnal desires.
While Nina Forever probably won’t ever be accused of being subtle, it does use its “corpse as metaphor for lingering guilt” in a variety of interesting and unexpected ways. Plus it’s nice to see an indie horror flick that avoids the conventional plot contortions and simply sticks to its central characters and its rather audacious thematic stew of horror, tragedy, pitch-black humor, and ill-fated romance. Doubly so when the filmmakers actually know how to frame a shot, hold on a key moment for maximum impact, and hire some decent actors. All three leads are excellent, but Ms. O’Shaugnessey does some remarkable work with a supremely difficult role.
Nina Forever is not exactly a fast-paced or particularly energetic horror story, but taken as a three-tiered character study, a tragic romance, or an especially sex-filled episode of Tales from the Crypt, there’s certainly a lot to appreciate here.
– Scott Weinberg (@ScottEWeinberg)