Directed by: Michael Steves
Starring: Jennifer LaPorte, Vincent Martella, Julia Aks, Alicia Monet Caldwell, Shonna Major, Taylor Clift, Rebecca Gail
Fern Peterson is a driven young woman trying to win a place on the MiT track team, when she meets and falls in love with Robert, an artistic soul who's been fawning over her from afar. At first, their courtship is sweet but soon Robert is becoming overly obsessive, wanting to commemorate every moment as an anniversary, and it starts to inadvertently push Fern away from him. Tragedy strikes when Fern tells him she's breaking up with him, causing him to fall into his own guillotine contraption and beheading him. However, Robert isn't going to let his own death get in the way of his relationship with Fern...
I'm sure it's no coincidence that the month containing Valentine's Day should see the release of two films concerned with obsessive love from beyond the grave. In one corner we have the British mumble-core effort, Nina Forever, while in the other corner is this mash-up of John Hughes style teen movie and gory horror. Although they share a common theme, the two films couldn't be more different if they tried.
The humour in Clinger is a lot less subtle than that found in Nina Forever, for a start, but at the same time, it works a hell of a lot better. Clinger is a very funny film, with laughs coming from many different sources. While Fern herself is pretty straight, her sister Kelsey (Julia Aks) is a hoot with her slacker attitude and dumb trashy boyfriend. Then there's Fern's best friend Moe, a conservative catholic girl who can't help but speak in double entendres and dirty word-play. Other strong support comes from Alicia Monet Caldwell as Valeria the Athletics coach-come-ghost hunter and Rebecca Gail as Jenny, a vacuous popular It Girl who uses Fern's tragic status for her own means.
The story keeps the subject matte as light as possible, making the ghostly situation for the most part no more threatening than breaking up with someone in a John Hughes teen movie .Even when things do start to get darker, the film is capped off with a moment of high camp.
Vincent Martella is also good as Robert. We first see him watching Fern at her athletics practice, then moves to help out when she takes a tumble. At first Robert's attention is sweet but it soon becomes totally overbearing. This is the first time either Fern or Robert have had a boyfriend/girlfriend and both are unsure who to deal with it. Unfortunately Robert deals with courtship in the most over-zealous manner. A montage shows Robert showering Fern with gifts to commemorate the weekly anniversary, coupled with a series of snap-shots which show Fern's loving gaze slowly transform into indifference and contempt.
Even Robert's parents are a little taken back when they witness Robert's piece de resistance, a guillotine contraption which unfurls a banner. The machine itself speaks volumes of the deranged obsession developing in Robert, and could have signalled the start of a much darker film if it didn't lend itself to a great piece of gory slapstick.
Clinger touches on some deeper subjects, such as how people cope with sudden loss and abusive relationships. When Robert first reappears, he has no idea what had happened, and sits confused at the dinner table while people talk around him (only Fern can see/talk to him). It leads to an outburst which makes it look like Fern is living in denial, creating an imaginary Robert in her mind. You can see it in her sister and parents' expressions.
In order to get rid of Robert, Fern has to convincingly tell him that she no longer loves him. However this proves hard because she can hardly convince herself. It takes most of the film for her to realise that anyone who truly loved her wouldn't be trying to kill her or her friends, and its possible that Robert never really loved her. Its an epiphany moment and the point where she realises she's the victim of an abuser.
However Clinger doesn't let these sober moments overpower the film's light tone andfinds some great nuggets of comedy hidden within. For example, Fern's school hires a therapist to help her class come to terms with the loss, but it turns out to be her sister Kelsey and her sock-puppets.
The supernatural elements are at first played for cuteness. Fern feels guilty about her role in Robert's death and is initially relieved to have him back. However its not long before his clingy nature manifests itself once more, forcing Fern to tell him to leave her alone. However Robert's mind has been twisted by the other spirits haunting the graveyard, and decides to make Fern his ghostly bride. This leads to some genuine laugh-out-loud moments such as Fern's friend Harlan being chased by a floating pair of scissors, and Fern and Kelsey being besieged by killer teddy bears.
Clinger is a very funny teen movie melded with Supernatural elements. The fx work is cheap but effective and the cast are excellent. Recommended.
8 out of 10 (MikeOutWest)