NINA FOREVER (2015)
Bizarre story has Rob (Cian Barry) suffering the effects of the accidental death of his girlfriend Nina (Fiona O’Shaughnessy). He’s depressed and has actually and unsuccessfully, attempted suicide. He has trouble moving on and even still hangs out with Nina’s parents (Elizabeth Elvin and David Troughton). Along comes Holly (Abigail Hardingham) who works with Rob at a grocery store and finds his whole mournful state of mind appealing. Holly is training to become an EMT and has a dark side, which sees Rob’s lingering pain as a noble sign of loyalty. They start dating, but each time they attempt to have sex, Nina’s mangled corpse appears to stop them. Holly will do anything to keep Rob, including trying to make their relationship a threesome with the deceased Nina. But Nina wants Rob all to herself and Holly out of the picture. How do you compete with a corpse?
Credit where credit is due, this is an original and offbeat flick from the demented minds of Ben and Chris Blaine. It plays it’s twisted story straight and yet has a dry sense of humor about itself, but sort of overplayed it’s welcome after awhile. Perhaps the story would have served itself better as a short tale in an anthology, as some of it started to get tiresome, such as Rob’s continual inability to deal with what’s happening and the hints of some sort of romantic interest with Nina’s aged mother. Even in a film that is supposed to be a morbid fantasy, it is also hard to believe Holly would so quickly accept the appearance of Nina and put up with it for as long as she does. There are some truly disturbing moments, such as the before mentioned threesome attempt and that Nina’s appearance adds a lot of blood to the love making process and that shows the filmmakers aren’t afraid to push boundaries. Cian Barry is a bit bland, but O’Shaughnessy and Hardingham certainly do good work here. It might be a simple case of the film just not clicking for me, but while I found it interesting, it was never completely satisfying or overly entertaining. Glad I caught it, but in no hurry to watch it again.
THE INVITATION (2015)
Story finds troubled Will (Logan Marshall-Green) being invited to an uncomfortable reunion party being thrown by ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and her new husband David (Michiel Huisman) and in his former house. The two have been away for a few years and when the party commences it appears they were involved in some possible cult activity in Mexico and may have a suspicious agenda for their guests…or is it all in Will’s mind as the house holds many unpleasant memories for him, that Eden seems to oddly be getting over.
Flick is written by Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay and well directed by Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body), but never grabbed me like it should. While the film tried to build paranoia as to whether Will was imagining a threat from Eden, David and their odd ‘friend’ Pruitt (John Carroll Lynch), it always seemed obvious where this was going from very early on. There was some atmosphere…a purposely uncomfortable one…and the last act did have some impact, despite being exactly how you figured this was going to turn out. Still, it was also hard to get involved when the characters were all self-absorbed yuppies, who are very hard to like or become endeared to. It also was hard to swallow that when things become uncomfortable quite early, that they all didn’t just walk out. Eden and David are weird from moment one and Will shouldn’t have been the only one with alarms going off. Were they all that vapid and dumb? It’s also hard to believe Will would accept an invitation from his ex-wife, in his ex-house to party with she and her new husband in the first place. The movie is well-intentioned and tries hard, but simply doesn’t succeed in making you doubt that this is going to conclude exactly as you think it will and takes you on that journey with people that are hard to like or be concerned about.