★★★★ out of ★★★★★
Directed by Pete Ohs
A gripping film that finds a fine balance between the terror of having a stalker with dark humor rooted in the supernatural, Jethica is a must-see for fans of well-crafted independent cinema. Besides directing, Pete Ohs also shot, edited, produced, and with the three main stars of his film, co-wrote the screenplay, a testament to DIY filmmaking during the pandemic.
Callie Hernandez (Blair Witch, The Endless) stars as Elena, a drifter who we meet hooking up with an apparently random guy in the back seat of his car. When he goads her for personal information, she tells him about how and why she lived alone in her grandmother’s trailer in remote rural New Mexico.
The film jumps to the past, where Elena bumps into Jessica (Ashley Denise Robinson), an old high school buddy, and invites her to stay with her. Jessica eventually admits to Elena that she left California because she had a stalker named Kevin (Will Madden of The Wolf of Snow Hollow), who Elena claims to see outside the trailer. Jessica insists that this is impossible; I’ll leave why for viewers to discover, but from here on out, the supernatural comes into play. To avoid spoilers, let’s leave it at that.
Hernandez is top-notch as a young woman who is no stranger to dealing with the occult and the afterlife, and she plays Elena straight as a no-nonsense person unafraid to face up to both humans and spirits. Robinson is also solid as the initially closed-up and mysterious Jessica. Madden treads an uncomfortable line between highly creepy and darkly funny as the non-stop–talking stalker.
The dialogue feels real, as does the relationship between Elena and Jessica. Aided by a fine cast, with the three leads co-contributing to the clever screenplay, Ohs turns in fine work with the several hats that he wears. He captures the seriousness of being stalked and also addresses loneliness while finding humor in uneasy situations, with the result being a highly admirable horror dramedy.
Review by Joseph Perry
Jethica screens as part of SXSW, which takes place March 11–20, 2022 in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit https://www.sxsw.com/.