Tuesday, 9 June 2015


Some of you may be shocked to hear that I DON'T only watch horror films. No, I'm not going to try to wriggle out and use sci-fi/horror hybrids as a genre either. I have, and continue to watch all sorts.
Guess what? That includes comedy films. And teen movies. And... romcoms.
I've even sort of enjoyed some of them.
But you know what would make teen romcoms better? Demonic teddy bears and funny decapitations.
If only somebody would make that movie...

CLINGER (2015)

Dir: Michael Steves

Starring: Jennifer Laporte, Vincent Martella, Alicia Monet Caldwell, Julie Aks, Shonna Major, Taylor Clift, Paulie Deo Jr., Leah Henley, Jeffrey Bean, Debbie Rochon 

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: I'll try not to spoil too much here but read on at your own risk.

Fern (Laporte) is a promising young track athlete in the senior year of High School with a scholarship to MIT all-but in the bag under the often abrasive tutelage of Coach Valeria (Caldwell). Then she meets the delightfully dorky Robert (Martella) and his sweet infatuation wins her over causing young love to blossom.

However, his intense clinginess, as displayed via his constant showering her with gifts, love-letters and even a song written for her (the quirkily catchy Fern's Song), soon stifles her. This is a young lady about to venture out into the world, away from her doting parents Phil (Bean) and Lynette (the always incredible Rochon) and screw-up sister Kelsey (Aks), who's still 'trying to find the right career'... often involving sock puppets.
So, with a heavy-heart, she decides to end her relationship with Robert, however, that night he has planned a big surprise with an elaborate contraption that will spell out yet another message of undying love. In an unlikely (but very funny) series of events the shock of getting dumped causes Robert to stumble into the machine... which promptly decapitates him.
In the aftermath the school goes into mourning, while Fern is supported by her sweet, innocent and always inadvertently VERY crude best friend Moe (Majors), Kelsey and Kelsey's dim and lewd boyfriend Dean (Deo Jr.)
However, there is a twist in the tale — such was Robert's love for Fern that he cannot move on, his ghostly form visible only to her. Consumed by guilt, Fern decides to make another go of things.
However, can the living and the dead exist together? And if not, how will Robert, the titular Clinger, handle another rejection?

THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): Clinger is a surprisingly bittersweet teen comedy with a healthy dose of supernatural horror as the icing on the cake. With plenty of legitimately funny humour and some hefty themes, including a refreshingly honest look at the fate of relationships when they don't grow and change at the same rate as one of the individuals within it, Clinger has plenty of heart. This is undoubtedly helped by its A+ cast. I hadn't seen Laporte or Martella before this movie but I shall certainly be looking out for them from now on. 
Laporte is a fantastic actress, plus she's naturally likeable, an invaluable trait in a lead. There's a lot asked of her in this film and she totally delivers, from romantic lead to kickass heroine, she impresses throughout. Keep an eye on Ms Laporte, I predict we'll be hearing plenty from her in the future.
Martella also has quite the arc, and he is a joy to watch. From sympathetic to seriously creepy, he shows a superb range. He is effortlessly charming, and I could certainly see him becoming a mainstay in comedy (his timing is excellent). Equally hilarious are the immensely talented Aks (who is quite rightly gaining plenty of plaudits for her work here) and Deo, whose dumbly loveable characters are perfectly realised. Walking hard-on Dean is likeable despite his sleaziness, no mean feat, and shows some brilliantly weighted work. Aks's Kelsey could also have veered into irritating, but it's a testament to her acting prowess that she is a character you enjoy seeing onscreen. 
Another riot to watch is the very cute Majors. Her comic timing while delivering some side-splitting double entendres is wonderful. Hers is a great performance, but also a cleverly written character. If a Stifler-like teen jock were to be deliberately making this steady steam of Viz-like gags, it would be far less funny (and endearing) than this take, in which the decidedly crude utterings are robbed of their offensiveness by the 'unknowing' delivery. Yet Moe is not the only well-written character — arguably the biggest scene-stealer here is Caldwell's phenomenal Coach Valeria. Putting it simply, Valeria is a force of nature, an awesome hybrid between Glee's Sue Sylvester and all four Ghostbusters. She's incredible, a strutting, crowing, uptight, cursing ball of bristling abrasive energy. The character has every single one of the best lines in the movie and Caldwell spits them out with relish in an absolutely flawless display of comedy acting. Saying that she is one of my favourite character creations so far this year is a huge understatement. Bravo!
Another wonderful example of the superb writing by Gabi Chennisi, Bubba Fish and Michael Steves is that they recognise the potency of the superb Valeria and give, what at first glance, looks like a comedy side-character a very significant role in the movie when she also becomes the deliverer of exposition. With a great back story (told via a kickass animated sequence, no less!) involving a personal tragedy and a former ghost-hunting career, Valeria is the one to give us all the information we need regarding the types of spirit our characters come across in the movie. What I loved was that so much of this story made it feel like Clinger was a part of a far larger universe — a universe I'd love to see more of. I'd definitely be down for a Valeria: Ghostcatcher prequel. Come on guys!
However, as cool as the ghostly side of things are, the strongest element of the story (and the writing in general) is the way in which it captures that bittersweet period between childhood and finally growing up, when relationships become adult, when the whole world lays before an adolescent. It's an exciting time, a thrilling time, but it's also a time of goodbyes, when you say farewell to places and people that have had a huge role in your life until then.
This mood is present throughout Clinger and it really does help elevate it above other teen horror-comedies. Even the bright, sunny Texas setting (which is pretty different to the vast majority of dark, gloomy horror locations) can't keep that hint of sadness out of the movie.
Speaking of the bright imagery, credit must go to cinematographer Chennisi for how great this film looks. It didn't have the biggest budget by any stretch of the imagination but it looks as polished as any other indie genre flick. The same can be said of the various cool ghostbusting props and the surprisingly gruesome and accomplished effects work. It's obvious that the cast and crew have taken great pride in their work on Clinger — and with good reason too.

THE WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): There's very little I can find fault with in Clinger. I suppose it is worth stressing that this is not a straight-up horror flick. If you're looking for gore and scares, well, this most definitely falls short.

I shan't bore you all with yet another long diatribe about how great I think Debbie Rochon's work is (the quickest of glances through my back catalogue of reviews will almost certainly turn one up if you really need to read one), but I will say that lead to one of my only disappointments with the film — that Ms Rochon is most certainly under-utilised. She has very little screen time, which is a crying shame, although she does play a key and very memorable role in the climactic race track scene. Still, a little Rochon is better than none at all!
Speaking of the race track climax, I felt the final resolution was a little underwhelming. This may sound like an odd thing to say about a scene involving a gang of amateur ghost hunters with an array of cool spectre-slaying tech battling a gang of assorted undead nemeses on a High School athletics track, but hear me out. Alas, this will require some SPOILERS******** I don't want to out and out ruin the ending here, but it's just that what happens between our two leads falls a little flat, perhaps it was the way in which it was presented? I know it was all about redemption and moving on, but it could, and probably should, have been a scene of high melodrama — instead it comes across as more quietly melancholy. In a way, this is to be applauded as it ties in perfectly with the sadder themes of the movie, so it feels like a natural climax to events. It's just that following a full-on blitz of ghostly action, this quiet moment was lost a little. Of course, this is just my humble opinion, so I'd love to hear from you to see if any other viewers felt the same way. Sound off in the comments below! SPOILERS END******** 

THE VERDICT: I REALLY enjoyed Clinger. It has far more heart than I possibly imagined it could have, a wonderful cast and some truly hilarious laughs. With a strong cast, an even stronger script and a lovely, honest look at young love and changing relationships, if Clinger can find a big enough audience, it is destined to become a cult movie classic. I really hope my review can persuade a few more of you to check it out, because I guarantee you won't regret it.

Oh and in case you were still waiting on that demonic teddy...

For news on how to catch Clinger yourself, head over to the movie's official Facebook page. While you're there, why not give it a Like too? This is a movie that deserves it! 

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Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

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