Thursday, 18 February 2016

Nina Forever (2016): Review

Nina Forever is a 2016 romantic horror comedy. Directed by Ben and Chris Blaine and starring Fiona O'Shaughnessy (Utopia), Abigail Hardingham and Cian Barry. This is the Blaine brothers feature length debut and had a limited release on Valentines day.

The film centres around Rob (Barry) and Holly (Hardingham), two troubled souls who work at a supermarket together. Rob is still grieving after the sudden death of his girlfriend Nina (O'Shaughnessy) and the pair soon fall for each other and begin a relationship. However, things take a pretty dark turn when a bloodied Nina makes an appearance during sex and makes it clear she is not happy for Rob to move on. Nina continues to appear, tormenting the new couple and threatening to tear them apart unless they can find a way to preserve her memory and exorcise her ghost.

Nina forever strikes a very interesting balance between black humour and genuinely touching performances from the three excellent leads. Sure, it's a rom-zom-com, but it's more like Shaun of the Dead (2004) meets Nekromantik (1987) and deals with love and death in equal measure. Weirdly, Nina provides the comic relief (albeit jet black) when things are getting too intense between Rob and Holly. However, Nina also comes out with some pretty profound musings on what it's like to experience death and I found myself hanging on O'Shaughnessys every word.

The film is beautifully shot in suitably melancholic, muted tones and felt authentically English and miserable. I also really liked the way the narrative shifted between Rob and Holly as just when I started to think that one was the protagonist, it shifted to the other and the plot was refreshingly unpredictable. Ironically, the only thing I really took issue with was that the ending felt pretty unresolved, but I can't help but think that this was the entire point of the film and that, just maybe, this was intentional?

For all the over-saturation of the zombie genre, rom-zom-coms still don't come along that often. Films that can successfully balance sincere romance, authentic tragedy and morbid humour, come along even less often (Harold's Going Stiff is another fine example of this). Nina Forever isn't always an easy watch but it's one of the most fiercely original and thought provoking films of the year thus far.

**** 4 Stars

What did you think of Nina Forever? What's your favourite rom-zom-com?


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