Originally published on The National Student on 14/02/17.
Ditch the mushiness this Valentine’s Day and spend some time with some of the more alternative romances that film has to offer.
It’s not all meet-cutes and happily-ever-afters you know. Or if it is, it’s not always between two fully functioning/alive adults.
Rom-coms are fairly old hat by this stage, we have them worked down to a tee. So watching them get blended up and passed around not only the horror genre but some fairly weird indie comedies too can feel incredibly refreshing.
Below you’ll find five of the best unusual romances featured on film to not only blow away those classically romantic Hollywood cobwebs but also to remind us all that, in the end, to quote the great Tommy Wiseau, “love is blind”.
Let the Right One In (2008) / Let Me In (2010)
Let the Right One In’s Oskar and Eli, (or Owen and Abby in Matt Reeves’ equally ace American remake) are just kids. But that’s not exactly why their romance is unusual. Nor is the fact that Eli is a vampire. Vampire/human romances are actually fairly normal by today’s standards – as painful as that is to admit.
The relationship between the pair is a little more funky than usual because not only is Eli not actually a girl, like Oskar assumes, (she’s a castrated boy that was cursed by an ancient witch), but he’s also pretty much her slave.
Just like her former lover before him, Oskar is recruited by Eli to be her human protector and hunter; to kill and bring her fresh blood to feed on. She uses some general sweetness and a spot of puppy-dog-eyes to lure him in, but the basis of their love affair is murder, and it’s not entirely clear whether or not he actually realises that.
Island of Death (1976)
Nico Mastorakis’s seriously violent exploitation classic is fairly straight-forward in terms of weird romances: the central couple are sociopathic killers. Just like the titular pair in Bonnie and Clyde or Mickey and Mallory from the bonkers Natural Born Killers.
Where they just about trump the others though, is in just how screwed up their relationship really is.
Celia traps victims by having (some rather public and shamelessly kinky) sex with them, both men and women, before watching her husband Christopher slaughter them in the most brutal ways imaginable. To make matters worse, she even happily watches said lover be raped and murdered himself, before running off with his killer.
Beat that, Oliver Stone.
Nina Forever (2015)
The Blaine Brothers’ debut was equally out-of-the-box as far as movie romances go, pushing a young paramedic into a rather toxic relationship with a depressed man who’s still haunted by the death of his former flame. The kicker being that he’s very literally haunted by her, and every time he and his new beau take things to the bedroom, the zombified corpse of his dead ex peels her way through the sheets and makes things ultra awkward for everyone involved.
To make matters weirder, there’s even a part where the new couple try and welcome said corpse into their sexual antics. Nina Forever is bonkers and if you’re yet to be graced by its presence, by all means rectify that immediately.
Just to one-up the Oskar-Eli vamp romance, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s Spring takes things a step further and sees a young American man falling for an ancient, bloodthirsty sea monster, complete with tentacles and everything.
Yes during the day she looks like a startlingly attractive human woman, but Lou Taylor Pucci’s Evan finds out his new love’s monstrous secret fairly early on and instead of running for the hills, he keeps things going. Maybe he just has a thing for tentacle porn? I guess we’ll never know.
Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
Last but definitely not least, despite being on the tamer-side, is Ryan Gosling striking up a love affair with a weirdly lifelike sex doll. Yep, you read that right.
If anything, Gosling’s escape from the heartthrob world of The Notebook is even weirder than a lot of the others listed here, simply for the fact that it’s based on real life. People actually do this, and just like Gosling’s Lars here, they find some form of fairly stable happiness in it too.
So whether your valentine in question is vampire, sex doll, weirdly shaped mythical sea monster or just plain ol’ human (ew), there’s always variety to be found in those super sappy things we call romance movies.