When Rob’s (Cian Barry) girlfriend Nina (Fiona O’Shaughnessy) dies in a car crash his grief drives him to take his own life. When the suicide attempt fails, he finds himself back at work at a supermarket, but soon falling for his co-worker Holly (Abigail Hardingham). As the pair get physically closer, Rob’s deceased girlfriend literally rips her way back in to his life; returning from the grave to torment him and his new love.
Holly and Rob are both leading unfulfilled lives; their green work uniforms ironically representing their dead-end careers and need to change their dull lifestyles in to something more exciting. Their chance meeting in the storeroom marks an important moment for them both as they bond over their subtle desire to live darker, edgier lives. What’s more edgy than a threesome with a dead person? Not much, I’d imagine.
Now, it may seem strange to say considering its concept, but this is a truly dazzling film. Put aside the blood-ridden, mangled corpse that tears its way through the bedsheets every time Rob and Holly have sex and you will see that the delicacy and the care that has gone in to crafting Nina Forever marks it as a stunning cinematic achievement. From the never-ending chill that dominates every scene – whether Nina is there or not – to intricate details such as a simple shot of broken glass or a musical choice, Nina Forever is overflowing with tiny touches that prove a sincere and overwhelming amount of care has gone in to every aspect of its creation. You could pause at almost any moment and be greeted with a gorgeous shot that is worthy of being framed. Nina’s presence is always felt, whether it’s in the wind whistling outside a window or a painting that looms ominously close, ensuring that forever really does mean forever – for us and for poor Rob and Holly.
The first time that Nina seeps her way in to the couple’s life is equally as mesmerising as it is ghastly. Her hands appear beneath the duvet and blood soaks the white sheets until the three of them are in a literal bloodbath. Nina’s bloodied pale hands grip Holly’s feet and unite the act of creating life with death; marking the film’s first descent in to a wondrous world of magical reality. The scene is captured in a series of close-ups which create a feeling of intensity which remains throughout. Nina not only has Rob and Holly firmly in her grasp, but us as an audience, too. Fiona O’Shaughnessy is captivating in her role as Nina and wonderfully encapsulates a personality that is torn between life and death. She is as witty as she would have been in life, but is held back by the broken physical form she has in death that barely allows her to crawl. Her movements are expectedly grotesque as glass juts out from her deathly white skin and her broken bones limit her to subtle, yet almost monstrous, movements. Nina herself embodies the film’s blending of romance and horror, as she is both beautiful and bewildering to gaze upon.
A car-crash sound effect marks Nina’s quite literally devastating entrance in to the couple’s lives. The blending of arresting and stylish editing with extreme close-ups of the brutal injuries Nina is now sporting emphasise the film’s intention and success at being a gorgeously macabre piece of film-making. The Blaine brothers have created a truly unique and stunning debut feature with Nina Forever as it perfectly treads that seemingly thin line between abhorrence and beauty. The film flows effortlessly from moment to moment, mimicking the blood that slowly permeates its way through the trio’s lives; across the floor, the walls and their bodies, they can’t escape their unstoppable bloody predicament. Nina Forever is like a dream meeting a nightmare; where love can last forever, but at the ultimate price. It’s a thoughtful and unique look at love, life and everything that comes after and before, a real intelligent treat that you’ll never forget, placing the directors on a pedestal only a fair few will reach.
The script is also sensational and showcases the talent of the cast that carry the film. There is a dreamlike quality to the writing that soaks in to the actors and allows them to bring their often diffident and always thoughtful personalities to the screen. Abigail and Cian’s characters are believable, which is a marvel considering what the film is about. Sharing your boyfriend with a dead girl? No chance! Nonetheless, they are such tormented souls that their situation is a manifestation of their disinterest in life, allowing death to take advantage and, quite literally, make itself at home. Despite the darkness that dominates the core of Nina Forever, there is a certain amount of wit that prevents the more depressing themes from being too much to bear. Nina herself is filled with more life than the others as she cracks a couple of jokes to keep things slightly lighthearted. She may be dead, but her sense of humour certainly did not die with her. “I’m not being like anything – I’m dead!” She laughs during an altercation with Rob. Nina’s father writes a shocking piece of erotica and reads it aloud to Rob who is, expectedly, aghast and a child stares intently as Rob brings his bloodied white sheets to the launderette, causing him to chuck the whole lot in the bin. Probably safer that way, huh? These moments take the edge off and prove that even serious films are allowed to have a bit of fun.
Quite simply, Nina Forever is the fucked-up fairytale you’re expecting. Like poetry in motion, it’s an unforgettably divine piece of romantic horror cinema that will surely be worshipped for many years to come.
Words: Jessy Williams (@JessyCritical)