Jethica, directed by Pete Ohs, premiered at SXSW Festival and is a delightful film. The story has dread, laughter, and drama wrapped in a  short 70-minute runtime. Jethica follows Elena (played by Callie Hernandez) as she helps Jessica (Ashlee Denise Robinson) deal with her stalker, Kevin (Will Madden). The situation becomes morbid and dark comedy as they seek assistance from beyond the grave to dispose of Kevin. Jethica keeps its pace, does not bloat the runtime, and stays unnerving and comical. 

Foreshadowing With Surprises

The film opens with Elena as she hooks up with a man in the backseat of his car. After the man, who the audience never sees, asks why they never go to her place, Elena confesses that she killed a man. Then we travel back as Elena recounts the story of running into her old friend Jessica. When Elena invites Jessica to stay with her for a bit, the situation becomes fraught with increased tension as Jessica tells Elena about her stalker, who refuses to stay away. So the pair resort to unorthodox methods to resolve the issue. 

One early scene in Jethica gave me clues, but I still did not see the other twist coming. I enjoy when a movie only allows you to see part of the development, like A Tale of Two Sisters. That style stands out more when solving does not bring you closer to knowing how a film ends. Realization comes with hindsight after the climax of the film. Jethica moves with that surety, and every scene feels necessary to the story and characters. 

Acting Keeps Audiences Hooked

The acting by Callie Hernandez and Ashlee Denise Robinson allows a balance between the horrible and comedic. The film leaves you questioning for most of its runtime whether it is okay to laugh at parts. Will Madden’s acting fits in because it leaves you wondering about Kevin’s threat level. Still obsessing over a woman and claiming it is love crosses a line, especially when a man forces those feelings onto the woman and demands their acceptance. 

Jethica Uses Space To Add Tension

Jethica director Pete Ohs
Jethica director Pete Ohs

The director stands out, particularly the scenes showing the vastness and emptiness of the area Elena and Jessica are staying. It makes you think about the Alien tagline, “in space, no one can hear you scream.” That helps build fear because there is no one else around for miles if something happens to either of them, as evidenced by Ohs’ skilled directing. Trapped characters, despite the wide-open spaces, deliver a frisson of fear in Jethica. Elena and Jessica’s enemy is the space since they are safe in the trailer. 

I could praise the film on length alone for a while. Jethica is lean, stripping away the bells and whistles to allow the characters to do the heavy lifting. And lift it does. Creepy stalker Kevin’s humorous, incessant monologues combine laughter with a frisson of fear. Elena and Jessica also inspire laughter and worry as they work to get rid of Kevin. Lately, many films have bloated runtimes with no purpose and wind up harming the movie with their uselessness. Jethica keeps it sparse and creates a compelling and thought-provoking film, a film about life, love, and death wrapped in a supernatural tale. 

1 Reply to “Jethica [SXSW ’22] Review”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.