M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Six of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2015 and going through September 30, 2016. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Released on February 12, 2016. Available on DVD, BluRay, and On Demand! Also streaming on Amazon Prime!
NINA FOREVER (2015)
Directed by Ben Blaine, Chris Blaine
Written by Ben Blaine, Chris Blaine
Starring Abigail Hardingham, Cian Barry, Fiona O’Shaughnessy, David Troughton, Elizabeth Elvin, Sean Verey, Javan Hirst, Richard Sandling, Phelim Kelly, Lee Nicholas Harris, Bill Holland, Katharine Bennett-Fox, Tamar Karabetyan
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Chock full with the type of quirk and sickness that I haven’t seen in a horror film since Lucky McKee’s MAY, NINA FOREVER turned out to be the right type of wrong for me.
Described as “a fucked up fairy tale,” NINA FOREVER follows an outcast named Holly (the beautiful Abigail Hardingham) who studies to be a paramedic and works her days away at a local grocery store. When her boyfriend proves to know nothing about her, they break things off and Holly immediately takes interest in a dark, brooding coworker at the grocery named Rob (Cian Barry), who recently lost his girlfriend Nina (Fiona O’Shaughnessy) in a traffic accident. Rob is grief-stricken, but the two grow close and Holly begins to find out more about Rob’s ex and respects that he is still getting over her (and most likely is more attracted to Rob because of his overwhelming grief and inavailability). When Holly and Rob finally make love, though, this guilt and sadness seems to bring Nina’s ghost back from the dead as she sprouts from the mattress stained in blood, sort of like HELLRAISER, but more romantical-like. Of course, both Rob and Holly are freaked out by the naked and bloody corpse writhing and talking to them from the blood stained mattress, but when Nina keeps on appearing to keep Holly and Rob from having sex, fear gives way to frustration and though Rob and Holly’s love is strong, Nina’s bloody ghost is a big, gory wedge getting in between their happiness.
As gory as this film is, it is quite heartfelt and sensitive to feelings of loss and guilt, as well as potent in capturing that magic that happens when two people meet and hit it off for the first time. This is a film that has powerful feelings as its backbone driving the story forward and all three actors (Hardingham, Barry, and O’Shaughnessy) convey this grab bag of emotions extremely well. The fact that Holly decides to roll with the fact that the ghost of Rob’s ex hanging around is a testament to the power of their love, but the film doesn’t really stop there in that these ghostly interruptions push Holly to the breaking point. Sure there’s a bit of comedy at the fact that everywhere Nina shows up is smeared with blood and gore, so the couple have to keep throwing out their sheets and cleaning the walls every time they have sex because of Nina’s gory intrusions, but NINA FOREVER plays with the metaphor of how death affects a relationship and how one looks at relationships after one has experienced loss in a way that elevates the film past mere comedy to a deeper and more soulful level.
The odd thing about NINA FOREVER is that it is told from Holly’s perspective. This all makes sense by the end of the film, but for most of the runtime, one would think this would be the type of tale told from Rob’s perspective as he is the one who experienced the loss of his girlfriend and is dealing with her return every time he is intimate with his new girlfriend. Sure we are given snippets into Rob’s morose world where he visits Nina’s grave and still has dinner at her parent’s place every Sunday, but most of the real emotion comes through the experiences we endure from Holly’s perspective. Because of this odd point of view, everything feels a bit off kilter. This isn’t horrible, it’s just another aspect of this wonky and unconventional film that makes things feel even more out of whack, but Holly is such a likable character that I didn’t mind following her around most of the time.
Often wickedly funny, often sweetly sexual, but just when you find yourself laughing or falling for these characters, things flip to being potently poignant and then downright morose, NINA FOREVER is a film for folks who like unconventional love stories with endings that aren’t so happy. The lead three stars are going to be big someday if their performances here are any indication, especially the uniquely gorgeous Hardingham who is equal parts sexy and twisted all at once as Holly. If you’re the type who love stories that stray from the norm, NINA FOREVER may be the right kind of fucked up for you too.
THE 2015-2016 COUNTDOWN!
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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