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[SXSW ’15 Review] ‘Nina Forever’ Is a Morbidly Funny Horror-Romance

You know what they say, true love never dies. This conceit is taken to delightfully morbid levels in the new film from award-winning UK pair Ben and Chris Blaine. Through a darkly comedic lens Nina Forever deftly explores serious issues like grief and moving on in the face of tragedy. The subject matter is serious and utterly relatable, but the delivery is deadpan gruesome – sure to satisfy even the most twisted horror fans.

Three staples of horror are of course sex and violence and dead girls. Nina Forever presents all three in a fresh way that engages while making one’s skin crawl. The story centers on Holly (Abigail Hardinham) who falls for her co-worker Rob (Cian Barry), a young man who recently attempted suicide following the tragic death of his girlfriend, Nina (Fiona O’Shaughnessy). After sharing a Garden State moment in the stockroom of the grocery store where they both work, Holly and Rob’s relationship begins to escalate. When they decide to knock boots at Rob’s apartment, through the pristine white sheets slithers a bloodied, mangled Nina. Most dudes fantasize about a threesome, but probably not with their dead ex-girlfriend. Unless they have a necrophilia thing going on, in which case Nina Forever is your new favorite film.

As Nina, O’Shaughnessy gives a hypnotically sexy and funny performance. I know, she’s decomposing, but the actress still manages to infuse the character with a sultry edge. She talks in these wonderfully poetic bits of dialogue, saying things like “Every drop of semen that trickles onto your belly is a ray of sunshine on his grief-stricken brow.” Wicked hot, right?

Anchoring her wispy role are Hardinham and Barry, who both deliver terrifically serious performances. They balance the film’s grotesque elements with more dramatic ones, sometimes asking painfully tough questions about relationships. Rob is still close with Nina’s parents, both of who are grieving in their own way. Her father has taken to writing literature about how a man pees, for instance. As their relationship gets more serious, Rob wants to bring Holly around to meet Nina’s folks. It’s an important part of Rob’s healing process, sure, but wildly inappropriate.

But hell, what is appropriate in a film like Nina Forever? Holly and Rob desperately try to make this ungodly love triangle a normal one, no matter how many times they have to wash the sheets afterwards. The Blaine brothers do a superb job of balancing the absurdity of a corpse that’s summoned every time they have sex and the tough themes like grief and the possible impossibility of closure. These murky areas of love and death are adroitly explored and the damn fine performances help anchor the film’s supernatural elements, which don’t need to be explained any further than Nina rising from the mattress, bloodied and ready to judge Rob’s new flame. It’s ridiculous and emotionally affecting all at the same time.



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