Review by Tatiana Miranda
Pete Ohs's new indie flick Jethica is what you would expect due to its simplistic storytelling and low budget, but it's also so much more. Co-written by a majority of the cast and shot during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jethica is reminiscent of a student film. Even with the film's small budget, the cast and crew's clear skills and excitement for what they're creating make Jethica stand out in various ways.
While Jethica's clear budget can sometimes come off as silly or impractical, its clever writing and dryness help match the other-worldliness of the film's setting and characters. Quite literally matching the dryness of the character's dialogue is the setting, which is filled with dusty and almost archaic buildings. In a large expanse of land, the main characters only have an old RV home as their refuge against supernatural beings lying in the desert beyond.
Reflecting on her time in rural New Mexico, the narrator and main character, Elena, begins the film by telling a hookup about the time she killed a guy. While that certainly draws the audience in, it is hardly the most exciting thing about Jethica. As the movie continues via flashback, the audience meets Jessica, an old high school friend of Elena who has just recently left California. Stand-offish and eager to leave the gas station where the two run into each other, it becomes increasingly clear that she's hiding something.
In revealing to Elena that she left California to escape her stalker, Kevin, the film's supposed "villain" is exposed. Buddied up as if no time has passed since high school, the two women realize that Kevin might not have been left in California after all. Filled with plenty of dark humor, it's hard not to simultaneously laugh and still be fearful as Kevin goes off on insane rants, often proclaiming his love for Jessica while also threatening her in the same breath.
Although Jethica's final scenes might come across as silly, they ultimately act as a redemptive arc for both the living and dead as they come to terms with their actions, giving each character a distorted sort of "happy ending." As the credits roll, the audience reflects on the film's themes of friendship, guilt, and the question of what lies after death.
Even though Jethica can feel disjointed at times (likely due to the script being co-written by so many people), it is ultimately a thrilling film with plenty of captivating performances. More than anything, it gives power to small filmmakers and shows that even without a huge crew and budget, you can still create a well-made, gripping film.
Jethica hits theaters January 13 and streams on Fandor beginning February 14.