Your exes will haunt you forever — literally. In the debut film from directing duo brothers Chris and Ben Blaine, “Nina Forever,” the afterlife meets this life in the bedroom. Emotionally haunted by the untimely death of his girlfriend Nina (Fiona O’ Shaughnessy “Outcast”), Rob (Cian Berry “Help Point”) finds love again with his coworker Holly (Abigail Hardingham “Sasquatch”). Then the emotional haunting becomes literal haunting, as Nina returns every time the couple tries to have sex.
For a horror/romantic drama with a whacked-out plot, “Nina Forever” is shot beautifully and cleverly. Shots of the three leads in bed show the messiness of their relationship. Holly and Rob are always, in some way, obscured by Nina. As the two bicker about what to do with the corpse in the room, the classic over-the-shoulder shot is played with, shooting the dialogue over Nina’s shoulders.
The film begins dangerously close to Manic Pixie Dream Girl territory. Holly thinks Rob’s suicidal depression is totally hot. The pair first interact in the storeroom of the grocery shop over a shared pair of headphones. Rob is dark and brooding. Holly is desperate to show him how dangerous and free she can be. At first, the looming question in “Nina Forever” is “when is Zooey Deschanel going to show up?”
But then things get weird and it’s great. After the initial horror of ghosts not only being real, but also watching you have sex sinks in, the three fall into a weird, semi-polyamorous relationship. Oddly enough, Nina’s bloodied corpse lying on the bed next to them doesn’t seem to be a mood-killer.
But what haunts them more than Nina’s physical presence is the implications it carries. What happens when someone you love dies? What happens when you try to love again?
Through attempts at answering these questions, “Nina Forever” transcends campy horror and becomes something philosophically charged. While it asks more questions than it answers, when the film does come to terms with the harsh truths of love, it soars.
The pair must grapple with how to both honor Nina and move on from her. Holly gets Nina’s name tattooed on her lower back (weird) and the pair try having sex on Nina’s grave (even weirder). There is no real resolution for this problem, and that is why “Nina Forever” is so wonderful. It doesn’t have all the answers and it doesn’t pretend to.
While most of the questions “Nina Forever” leaves unanswered are large and profound, some simple plot points are left untouched. There’s quick mention of a weird flirtation between Rob and Nina’s mom and a glazing over of the large age gap between Holly, who seems to be a college freshman, and Rob, who already has a PhD. Yes, these aren’t the questions “Nina Forever” wants to spend its time answering, but why further complicate an already twisted plot?
The elevator pitch of “Nina Forever” could easily sound like another sex-fueled horror-comedy of the post-“Scream” era. But because it chooses to wrestle with the hard questions that underlie any film in this genre, it becomes something beautiful, heartbreaking and wholly its own.