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‘Jethica’ Review: Romanticizing Stalking? Not Today

3 out of 5 stars!

Elena and Jessica being tired of the nonsense in Jethica

Jethica isn’t a perfect film, and it straddles several genres in a way that may not work for everyone. However, it’s a bold film in terms of its subject matter. In the days of Netflix’s You and Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley), some people have come to romanticize the act of being dangerously stalked. Of course, You is quite entertaining and intriguing on multiple levels for those of us who watch it.

However, the romanticization of stalking is a very real phenomenon, especially among young people, and it’s crucial that we don’t lose sight of reality and the insidious nature of intruding and invading someone’s life to alarming levels—and how frightening it certainly is for the victim of said situation (unless you’re Love Quinn).

Jethica follows Elena (Callie Hernandez) and Jessica (Ashley Denise Robinson), who are both running from their individual circumstances, and as soon as they reunite after not seeing each other for years, Jessica’s stalker shows up outside Elena’s grandma’s trailer.

This story is told by way of non-linear storytelling, and there’s nothing wrong with that form. In fact, it can be more interesting to watch a story unfold out of order (so to speak), but in the case of this film, it becomes a bit confusing and almost bogs the story down—all of which is unfortunate, because there are still things to like about this horror comedy drama (a true mouthful).

The depiction of Kevin (Will Madden), Jessica’s stalker, is perfectly uncomfortable, and it’s mainly due to how realistic he comes across. Jessica’s evidence of his stalking is harrowing to watch since his videos range from pathetic to threatening, and when he appears at her location, it’s a frightening sight for obvious reasons. There are a few twists that I won’t reveal because they are major spoilers, but what I will say is that Kevin is a relentlessly annoying force throughout the film. Meanwhile, Elena and Jessica are very much done with his shit.

There’s not much to any of the characters outside of their individual conflicts. Jessica is a Black woman, however, and that does make the circumstances slightly different. Normally, the person being stalked is a conventionally attractive white woman. Obviously, the situation is horrible for Jessica, but showing different people getting stalked is important. She’s not depicted as impervious to danger (there’s no “strong Black woman” trope here) and is allowed to experience multiple emotions.

The friendship between Elena and Jessica does lend to where the film falls apart. If there were a deeper connection between them, it would add so much more to the events that unfold. Two best friends working together to get rid of an entitled man? Absolutely! Sign me up! Have we seen that type of film or something similar before? Yes, but it doesn’t matter. A light horror comedy with a splash of drama is exactly what some of us need at times.

I recommend Jethica to anyone who enjoys stunning scenery, a somewhat throwback film style, good performances from the leads, an unnerving depiction of stalking, and some comedic moments throughout. Again, it’s not remotely perfect, and I would’ve preferred some aspects to be scarier. (That’s just my taste, though.)

(featured image: Fandor)

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Vanessa Maki (she/her) is a blerd writer and visual artist who loves horror, anime and all things strange. Her writing has appeared in Pink Advocate, Dread Central and more. For more, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @theblackbuffy.