"delivers a fairly new take on the tried and tested doomed romance plot, by having the idea emotional baggage from Nina’s death quite literally manifesting in the form of her battered corpse"

Moving on from the death of a loved one can be a difficult process, especially when that loved one keeps returning from the grave at inopportune times to hinder your attempts. That’s the kind of situation that blights the lives of the protagonists of today’s film, the dark horror comedy Nina Forever.

The plot follows Holly and Rob, who are embarking upon a new romantic relationship; however their attempts to become intimate with one another are repeatedly interrupted by the arrival of Rob’s deceased girlfriend, the titular Nina, who proceeds to provide sarcastic commentary on the their repeated attempts to move on with their lives.

The plot is a dark one and could make for a ludicrous black comedy. However the film wisely portrays this material in a mostly straight fashion, making the somewhat more bizarre sequences, such as the battered and bloodied Nina’s constant re-appearance during the couples ill fated attempts at love-making all the more humorous in its execution. These moments are made all the more funny by the couple’s initial horror changing to annoyance, treating her resurrections the same way you would treat a fly at a picnic.

The acting from the film’s three leads is wonderful to watch. As the grief stricken Rob, Cian Barry is a sympathetic and likeable leading man, tormented by his desire to move on from the death of his beloved Nina, but eager to move on in his new relationship with Holly. The early scenes, in which he returns to work following an unsuccessful suicide attempt, are expertly portrayed as he lashes out at colleagues trying to help.

Abagail Hardingham as Holly is a very curious turn; she is not so much the lovely girl next door, but the morbid girl who hangs around your bedroom window watching you sleep. She is deeply infatuated with Rob when the film begins, and this obsession is evidenced in her deep stares that suggest at a madness just lingering underneath. This madness coming to the forefront in her attempts to erase all memory of Nina from Rob’s life, going as far as to completely redecorate their home and destroy all photos of his deceased former flame. However Hardingham keeps the character likeable and does not devolve it into some kind of clichéd ‘bunny boiler’ character.

However the show is almost entirely stolen by Fiona O’Shaughnessy (a face familiar to viewers of the excellent TV series Utopia) as the titular undead Nina. O’Shaughnessy’s performance is brilliant, from the way she delivers the dialogue in her raspy Irish tones, to the slinky manner in which she moves her body around, she is much more than another bloodied shuffling zombie.

O’Shaughnessy delivers the dialogue in a masterfully dead pan manner filled with funny observations, like accurately pointing out that she never broke up with Rob, thus is technically still his girlfriend, disregarding her being dead as a reason to end the relationship, or mocking Holly and Rob’s pitiful attempts to make Nina rest in peace, viewing them as patronising and meaningless. It’s a truly wonderful performance that elevates the film if only slightly.

Despite the fine acting on display, the film’s slow pace holds it back somewhat and it can become very slow at times, which frequently left me feeling somewhat bored while watching. I was almost relived when the end credits rolled, which I feel is unfair to say about this film as it isn’t bad at all, it’s just a bit dull.

There just isn’t enough material to warrant stretching the runtime to 90 minutes and it does become slightly boring at times. Perhaps it would have worked better as a short film or as an episode in some kind of anthology TV show, but not as a feature film.

Overall the film delivers a fairly new take on the tried and tested doomed romance plot, by having the idea emotional baggage from Nina’s death quite literally manifesting in the form of her battered corpse. The morbid and funny premise is delivered in straight faced fashion that makes it all the more humorous, but the joke soon wears a bit thin as the film goes on.

If you are tempted to watch the film, I would recommend it on the strength of the lead performances, as they do save the film and stop it from becoming a forgettable bore fest.

In short, Nina Forever is a decent film, but it falls far short of being a great one. Check it out to see some truly wonderful performances and a creative spin on the romance film.