MAYHEM FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW // NINA FOREVER
Daniel Lavelle was our Ambassador up in Nottingham for Mayhem Film Festival earlier this month, and he gave us a round-up of his experiences there in his last guest post. Now we have his review of Nina Forever for your delight. Over to Daniel…
For a horror film to be a horror film, does it have to scare you? That’s the question I have been pondering since leaving a screening of Nina Forever at the Mayhem Film Festival in Nottingham earlier this month. Take comedy films for example, I am now positive that comedy does not necessarily have to make you laugh to be a comedy, does the same apply to horror?
I’m a relative newbie to the horror film genre, and I have yet to immerse myself fully into the more obscure titles that are on offer. I’ve seen the majority of films one is expected to see, The Exorcist, A Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Shining .etc. And on every occasion that I “settled” into watching a scary movie, I have been made to feel frightened at least once during its running time.
Nina Forever definitely possesses some of the themes one would expect from the genre; there’s buckets of blood, the waking dead, and plenty of uncomfortable sex scenes to have merited a place at Mayhem, but all this inspired giggles not goosebumps. This is in no way a criticism, the film works splendidly as a black comedy with a social commentary on grief, and the complications this can cause in relationships.
The film centres on a romance between Rob (Cian Barry) and Holly (Abigail Hardingham) which runs into a crimson quandary when Rob’s deceased ex-girlfriend Nina (Fiona O’Shaughnessy) materialises contorted and bloody into their bed whenever they attempt to have sex, to mercilessly taunt them with sarcastic quips. The film does something interesting from that point on, in the sense that it doesn’t follow the tempting route of creating a safe and conventional plot. One where for example, Rob and Holly must discover how to exorcise Nina from their bedroom as she becomes more threatening and monstrous, complete with scenes inside some haunted library where they dig out an ancient and probably prohibited book of incantations to break the spell of girlfriends past. Instead the film develops with all the familiar themes of a British social drama, Nina’s presence serving as a kind of metaphor for how former partners can inhabit new relationships through grief and jealousy.
Although the film is not particularly frightening, it is disturbing and uncomfortable in places. No more so than through Abigail Hardingham’s character Holly, whose paraphilia for all things melancholy verges into Cronenebergian territory, but doesn’t linger there for too long as levity usually prevails through one of Nina’s sardonic quips. This was potentially a precarious balancing act, but the Blaine Brothers pull it off with confident direction, and patience. This patience is most notable in the way the film is shot. Unlike the vast majority of contemporary cinema, the film is not afflicted with ADHD of the lens and is brave enough to hold a single shot for longer than a split second. The movie also features great performances from the three leads, although Hardingham shines brightest, and I imagine she will be plucked from relative obscurity fairly soon.
So I am not entirely convinced that Nina Forever is a horror film in a traditional sense, but it is interestingly funny and poignant, and is well worth your time this autumn.
Daniel Lavelle - October 2015
The above Ambassador experience was created between Festival Formula and Emmaus. Daniel’s own blog can be seen here: The Opposition