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British Film Review: NINA FOREVER
Directed By Ben Blaine & Chris Blaine
Genre: Horror - Comedy - Romance
I'm sitting in the cinema waiting patiently with my friend for the film to begin. I'm apprehensive because the last time I liked a horror film it was Cabin in The Woods. And that, while terrifying, was the ultimate cult feature that mocked everything that I hate about horror films. Also I'm not awesome with blood, so you can imagine my fear given the poster that accompanies this SXSW officially selected feature.
What I am yet to find out however, is that this little masterpiece is anything but the stereotype style horror I've been avoiding for the last two decades since Scream (yes true story!). Instead, NINA FOREVER is about to reveal itself as a somewhat quizzical look at the reincarnation (well not quite given Nina is back in the same body) of a dead oddball girlfriend, and how a new couple manage her invited reception.
I recall referencing it as a comical threesome horror on Twitter and I still don't think that's a stretch. Holly, a paramedic in training falls for her co-worker, Rob, at their shared dead-end job. It's the kind of job you'd only do as a student or if by some stroke of bad luck, your proper day job fell apart and you were forced to take this one in order to avoid signing on. So luckily for this pair of misfits, romance ensues when the pair finally talk at said job, and it's not long before they go home together. Sadly however, Rob's dead ex-girlfriend Nina has decided to join in on the bed party. You can see why it could easily be identified as a comedy threesome.
Now don't get me wrong, it is still absolutely creepy as a concept. But my initial reaction was to totally go with how obscure it was because it wasn't played in a violent way but rather much more comically. It's an almost quirky look at fixated love, or perhaps, fated love is more appropriate.
The first thing that drew me to NINA FOREVER was the realism with which the characters were portrayed, given the absolutely unrealistic environment. I mean let's face it, if any of my ex's were to come back and haunt me in that fashion I'm pretty sure I would just call it a day and take off to a nunnery (forever!). But instead what does Holly do? Well she fully embraces the situation and goes on an epic journey of small proportions to right it all and help her forlorn lover. Ballsy to say the least.
Never a fan of spoiler alerts I won't tell you what happens to these ill-fated lovers, suffice to say if Holly's day job doesn't work out, she could definitely make some serious money in the cleaning business. She's my kind of OCD girl.
Another thing that struck me with this movie is that it is a truly female dominated horror story. You're not actually following the journey of Rob (played by Cian Barry) so much as you are Holly (Abigail Hardingham) and Nina, played by the endlessly charming and surreal Fiona O'Shaughnessy. It is the girl’s relationship that's fascinating. How are they going to escape this tangled web. And who will end up winning over Cian’s heart once and for all.
I also rather liked how British this film is. The parents are a little bit too typically country folk for my liking, but the dad saved it with some outrageous literary moments in his ‘man office’. But by far, my favourite performance was that of Abigail Hardingham. This little actress is one to watch. She's subtle, understated and absolutely captivating.
And this brings me to the infamous directing duo, Ben and Chris Blaine. Having seen their previous work I was pretty excited about their debut feature, even if it is a horror. And it really didn't disappoint. These two directors are terrific. The Blaine Brothers managed to find humour in the seriously disturbed, execute excellent direction, and at the same time truly grasp realism with a bit of gritty British truisms in there for extra effect. And it’s a truly an original script! Cassandra Sigssgard, the producer behind this piece, has championed brilliance in casting (Emily Tilelli Casting) and directors.
Overall, if this story doesn’t hook you, then you’ve definitely seen one too many serious horrors, and perhaps this was never going to be your genre anyway. I was delighted with the pace, the story changes and the crazy conclusion. I was also secretly pleased they didn't make a film that was just all about a dude having a bad day. I mean, we have Mission Impossible for that right!
NINA FOREVER is released on DVD 22 February 2016.
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