Clinger (A horror Comedy)

Movie Review – Clinger (2015)
By Gurldurham

I had a graphically red nightmare a few days ago about a story on the news about a man who disemboweled his girlfriend after she allegedly uttered her ex’s name during sex. My brain wouldn’t let me dream it anymore and mercifully I woke up.  

I watched Clinger a few weeks ago and couldn’t quite put my finger on why I didn’t like the movie, despite being a sucker for a black comedy, no matter how black the subject matter.  After my nightmare it clicked. 

Robert Klingher, (Vincent Martella) begins to obsess over his girlfriend Fern, (Jennifer LaPorte), after dating only a few short weeks and when she tries to break up with him he accidentally beheads himself with a guillotine-like device he’d constructed to Psychopathically Show His Love. 

He comes back from the dead as a “Love Ghost” intent on taking her with him to the other side but is in for an unpleasant surprise when Fern doesn’t willfully play Juliet to his Less Than Elegant Romeo.

The cast is full of goofy one-dimensional characters and with the exception of Fern’s older sister, Kelsey, who in my humble opinion should have been the star of this movie with her clever one-liners and Sexual Harassment Sock Puppets, the laughs are few and far between and so I was left to just mull over the moral implications of the movie instead. 

On the surface the movie is about a teen girl dealing with her clingy ex-boyfriend but the message it ultimately sends is much more insidious, irregardless of how campily that message is delivered.

Clinger is the self-described "Sex-Positive" Movement’s wet dream, awful sexual pun intended, and the film itself is chock full of them, tossed around in every other scene by the Ditzy Female Friends of The Protagonist. The never ending sexual innuendos are always about a Woman Getting Fucked and they’re so funny, you see, because we already know that everything a woman says and does is semen-soaked by the epistemology of porn culture but no matter! A Strong Female Lead + Any Kind of Sexual Content Whatsoever = Empowering and Subversive in Mainstream Discourse so just forget I said anything. 

Or, just maybe, this is Kind of a Big Deal that should at least be considered when taking on the subject of violence against women at the hands of men who want to possess them.

The filmmakers have to understand that the reason Clinger is a twist on the Usual Story and thereby worthy of telling is because in the Usual Story, i.e. Reality, Fern doesn’t fight back and she dies, or she does fight back she still dies or she fights back and spends 30 years in prison for fighting back, or sometimes she just lies unconscious on the bathroom floor while a Klingher rips her entrails out through her vagina with his bare hands and still somehow manages to have CBS Miami re-frame this evisceration as “rough sex” when covering it in their shitty local news segment.

Comedy when it’s subversive can be a powerful weapon but a comedy that doesn’t fully grasp what it’s trying to subvert only serves to perpetuate the very thing it’s targeting which in this case should have been men not seeing women as fully human, autonomous people and the socialization of girls that results in them actively catering to this mind-fuck when they’re not submitting to it out of fear for their lives.

Sure, the film acknowledges that Violence is Wrong and that Women are Not Objects to be Possessed but then it turns around and explains away Klingher’s abusive behavior with a lazy “Love Ghosts Eventually Go Crazy Because Reasons” (the ever popular Mental Illness Defense for all you Elliot Rodgers fans) and, really, this All Too Familiar Excuse Making could have provided even more fuel for the evolution of Fern’s character from Guilty and Accommodating to Aware and Fed Up, but it doesn’t. 

Just when you think she’s there, in a single unforgivable moment at the end of the movie, Klingher tearfully requests that she remember the good parts of their relationship before fading away to Not-Hell Where He Actually Belongs and she acquiesces with a nod of her head, implicitly acknowledging to herself and to us that hey, he wasn’t all that bad.  

And Voila! 

Clinger no longer has anything bigger to say about toxic relationships or violence against women. It’s just a story about imperfect individuals set against a low budget backdrop sprinkled with a few dashes of naked man-body for gender equality, or whatever. 

Isolated incidents, one and all. 

But Klingher is a bad guy and men like this are bad men and the film refusing to make this connection makes me wonder what the point even was. 

Clinger is a stretch of the imagination not because of the supernatural but because the victim doesn’t stand for the abuse and while the film accomplishes this on a superficial level it fails in one crucial regard:

Women are always and forever expected to consider the humanity of the men who dehumanize them, even with an axe sticking out of their heads.

Fern should have just said “No” because that would have been a real twist to the Usual Story.

And, seeing as how this is a black comedy, it would have been really funny too.            2.8

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