Nina Forever Movie Review
Written by Karin Crighton
Released by Epic Pictures
Written and directed by Ben Blaine and Chris Blaine
2015, 98 minutes, Rated R
Theatrical release on February 12th, 2016
Fiona O'Shaughnessy as Nina
Abigail Hardingham as Holly
Cian Barry as Rob
Nina Forever is a stunning example of how flexible and relatable the horror genre can be. Like Manson Family Vacation, this movie isn't about the horror, it's the method through which a story of personal drama is told. And it's done beautifully.
Holly is immediately drawn to Rob. He's depressed, suffering from the loss of his girlfriend Nina in a car accident several months prior. Holly is sick of being "sweet", she wants darkness and she wants Rob. Gathering her courage, she approaches him in their workplace break room, and the rest, as they say, is history. Unfortunately, Rob's history isn't necessarily dead and buried. Well, she is....but she's back. And Nina doesn't like Holly.
That blurb sounds like a comedy, and the trailer does make it look light, but Nina Forever is not light. It's a movie about handling death. Rob truly wants to move on with his life, he wants to make new memories with Holly. But Nina keeps returning whenever they are intimate, a physical presence with open wounds that leave very real blood on their sheets, bathtub, chairs, everywhere. She haunts their communion; they cannot exist without Nina.
And that's exactly the point.
Holly is going to school to be a paramedic; the person that steps up and helps end the pain and danger in others' lives. But she is, in fact, 19. She craves the grief she hasn't yet experienced; she wants to look into that void. Rob is her ticket to being more than the little girl everyone sees. And dealing with Nina seems to be the challenge that will make her deal with relationships as an adult. But despite all her ideas, Nina won't move on. She demands Nina leave but she won't. She accepts Nina and tries to make her part of her and Rob's relationship, but that bombs horribly. She rids the apartment of everything that reminds either of them of Nina. But Nina persists. Because she's dead. She no longer wants anything, she no longer has a need to bargain. Only the living have needs.
Nina Forever is just fantastic. The reality of dealing with death plays on screen with Rob and his strained relationship with Nina's parents. They try to lean on one another during the hard times, but resentment remains when love is gone. David Troughton is heartbreaking as Nina's father, Dan. His scene where he finally breaks down and expresses himself is difficult to watch, it's so real. Cian Barry and Abigal Hardingham are perfect as Rob and Holly; their unusual relationship is played like a violin, precisely in key and just raw enough to avoid melodrama. Fiona O'Shaughnessy has a difficult role as Nina. She seems only there to antagonize since she is the foil to the lovers' relationship, but after it's established that she doesn't have anything else to do – she's dead – her role makes complete sense.
The cinematography is a work of art. A particularly haunting shot has the camera sweeping past supermarket aisles then cutting to sweeping over the aisles in a graveyard fluidly; an incredible visual metaphor. Cinematographer Oliver Russell has a meticulous eye and co-writers/-directors Ben Blaine and Chris Blaine have created a masterpiece.
This brilliant movie shows us what death is – to the living and to the lost. It's not high drama; it can be humorous but it's not funny. You hate the pain, you accept the pain, you feel guilty when the pain recedes. It hurts and it lingers and you learn to live with it and one day it isn't your everything. It just is. And it is forever.