‘Jethica’ Review: Slow Stalker

Two women battle an unusually persistent admirer in this enjoyably offbeat supernatural comedy.

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By Jeannette Catsoulis

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“Jethica,” a brazenly odd yet gently appealing horror-comedy, is difficult to describe without spoiling its swerving tone or smartly spaced reveals. Working with pandemic-influenced themes of loss and trauma and isolation, the director Pete Ohs (who collaborated on the script with his small cast) delivers an off-kilter take on the kind of haunting that all too many women have experienced.

After a shocking highway accident, Elena (a perfect Callie Hernandez) is hiding out in her grandmother’s trailer in the desert outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. A chance meeting with an old school friend, Jessica (Ashley Denise Robinson), results in Elena offering to put her up for a few nights. Jessica has fled California to escape Kevin (Will Madden), the stalker whose lisp gives the film its title — and also, unfortunately, siphons the chill from Kevin’s frantic declarations of devotion when he suddenly shows up outside the trailer.

Reacting to Kevin with the cool resignation of someone accustomed to dealing with men like this, Elena, whose grandmother was a mystic, knows that getting rid of him will require more than police intervention. On hand to help is Benny (Andy Faulkner), a strange dude we have seen shuffling back and forth on the highway, blank-eyed and with a druggy stoop. For reasons that will soon become apparent, Benny might be the only person who can understand Kevin’s predicament.

At once dryly funny and surprisingly poignant, “Jethica” uses the paranormal as a metaphor for abusive male behavior. The film’s deadpan perspective and unhurried pacing can diffuse its surprises, but Ohs has an offbeat style that’s fresh and fun. Between the blue-bronze sweep of sky and dusty yellow ground, his snaking, canted camera summons the creepiness the story needs and any stalking victim will recognize.

Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 12 minutes. Watch on Fandor.

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