Directed by Pete Ohs

Written by Andy Faulkner, Callie Hernandez, Pete Ohs, Ashley Denise Robinson and Will Madden


Rating: 3 out of 5.

Fed up with the leering and continually unwanted advances from men, it’s no wonder the extremes women resort to in evading stalkers and persistentance. And though the film transitions itself in storytelling genres, and eventual protagonists, Pete Ohs’ Jethica largely concerns a young woman, Jessica, and her cross-country escape after being stalked by a man named Kevin. But fortune favours Jessica, who stumbles across an old classmate, Elena, who offers Jessica a respite and somewhere to stay in the wide-remote openness of New Mexico.

Jethica initially runs itself as a budding drama as Elena and Jessica re-acquaint themselves, but there’s something more sinister at play here. Elena has secrets. Indeed, the odd setup of the film finds Elena opening the film professing to have killed someone to a complete stranger after having sex in his car, and it isn’t until much later we begin to piece together exactly what’s going on here. Not helping matters is the arrival of Jessica’s stalker, Kevin, who somehow follows her to the flats of New Mexico – circling their remote house, desperately pining for the chance to be with her again. Oh, have we mentioned that Kevin is dead?

Now, the introduction of spectral elements might initially seem off-kilter, and it is, but Callie Hernandez (Eleana) and Ashley Denise Robinson carry the early portions of the film well enough to transition between the shifts in tone, keeping the audience on the side as the more grim humour becomes more physical and slapstick. The pair hold the dry humour, with a bright delivery that benefits from the improvisational nature of the film – particularly as the more horror elements seed.

This improvised script allows for a spontaneous nature, it’s directed to slip from one stream of the story to the next, doing so with striking enthusiasm and focus. Ohs subverts the expectation of the film and demonstrates a tight ability to slip, rather seamlessly, from one tone to the next without jarring the audience. Jethica’s evolution from mid-tempered horror into a supernatural farce might feel like an odd choice, but if anything, Ohs has presented us with their talent at sculpting ‘odd choices’ into something wholly more original and investable. And while it might lose the slasher edge it had to go for it, mildly to its detriment, Jethica never drops your attention – even if it is for the sake of what on earth is going on.

There’s enough here to cover a solid short film, but once Jethica pushes past the forty-minute mark, the largely improvised script loses its baring somewhat – even if it handles the transitions well. Ohs’ capture of the New Mexico landscape is striking initially, the deep purples of the sky against the endless stretches of yellow land, but gradually the film begins to feel empty without purpose. Once the narrative unfurls itself to reveal its secrets, it continues for an additional ten minutes or so, filler, comedic and kept up with Andy Faulkner and Will Madden’s performances, Madden a particularly brilliant round of improv as the apathetic Kevin, endlessly blaming the world rather than himself for his failed advances on Jessica. It’s a sharp portrait of the misogynistic blame culture paraded across social media and handled sublimely by Hernandez and Denise Robinson.

The film’s casual approach towards death, morality, and the occult is refreshing – as is the more flippant reaction to ghosts and usually narrative-altering revelations which are treated with a more authentic casual acceptance. This dead-pan venture into the comedic horror avenue flips its viewpoint of the black-humour views on death and obsession than initial appearances. The beauty of this film is, unfortunately, part of its limitation. Jethica’s unsafe nature of chaotic improvisation allows for freedom to subvert, and authentic performances, but its lack of structure takes a toll the closer we stretch to the hour-mark, and even with its pleasant cinematography and grim smile, loses itself amongst the wandering dead, unsure of just how to conclude itself.

Jethica is available on Demand and Digital release from February 6th.

Jethica may be pre-ordered from Apple iTunes here.


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