Jethica (2023) Review: Have you ever been annoyed by a ghost in a film? I have previously been creeped out by the eccentricity some ghosts have brought to the screen, such as in Beetlejuice (1988) or Hereditary (2018). But I cannot remember being irritated by the presence of a ghost in a film. No, not even by the campy catfights between the spirits of Madeline and Helen in Death Becomes Her (1992).

Therefore, hating a ghost because I cannot stand its screen presence was the first for me in Pete Ohs’ Jethica (2023). It is a strange film, an odd horror-comedy that is not too hot and spicy for a regular palette of horror lovers and may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Nevertheless, I urge you to try it.

Jethica begins with Elena (played by Calle Hernandez) having sex in the backseat of a car with a stranger. When the person urges Elena to invite him over or help him get familiar with her, she tells him a strange story from when she was hiding in her grandma’s trailer for having killed someone.

This is a mildly-shocking revelation within the first 10 minutes of the movie, preparing you for the tremors to follow. In the story, Elena comes across Jessica (played by Ashley Denise Robinson), an old friend from school, at a gas station and invites her over to her place.

During their conversation, Elena realizes that Jessica is on the run from her stalker, Kevin, but the latter seems to have followed her to Elena’s trailer. However, they quickly realize that it is not the mortal Kevin but his ghost who is waiting for Jessica outside the trailer (because the trailer is sacred and Elena comes from a family of witches with powers).

Do the two friends finally get rid of Kevin? Ohs’ film takes time to bask in the enchanting but empty landscape of New Mexico, giving us a glimpse of some of the prettiest sunsets as the 71 minutes-long film does its best to pass the Bechdel Test.

Jethica (2023) Review

The aloneness of a ghost has been brought to the screen in David Lowery’s A Ghost Story (2017), where you are bound to feel bad for the eternal solitude of the souls stuck on earth through changing times. Here, Ohs takes a leap of faith to pepper some comedic elements to bring out the same. Kevin’s ghost is apathetically lonely, apart from the fact that he may be obsessed with Jessica.

Thankfully, the former doesn’t justify his actions to make Jessica feel unsafe; it only makes him an annoying ghost to watch on the screen. Distinguished from the mortals with some white powdery makeup and kohl-smudged craters under the eyes, Kevin’s ghost – quite strangely – has a shadow!

Interestingly, Kevin has a lisp, which makes Jessica’s name read like ‘Jethica,’ therefore the name of the film. Ohs said that the film was shot and conceived during the early months of 2021 when the pandemic was still in full force, justifying the themes of isolation in the movie.

In this world, human beings are not so different from ghosts. They feel a sense of isolation and disconnection from the rest of the world as well, and the natural setting of the movie helps drive this understanding home. When combined with an ominous background score and a cacophony of voices, this understanding successfully grafts itself into the audience’s mind.

However, the film is quite slow, almost threatening to lose your attention on more than one occasion. In fact, the unconventional camera work, otherwise superbly done, gives the film this oddball sense of unhurriedness. The portrayal of Kevin is a little controversial because the writing tilts the balance of sympathy uncomfortably in Kevin’s favor right after he is discovered to be a ghost which can appall the audience.

Everything about Elena’s meeting with Jessica is too coincidental too. The characters end up feeling like dots in time. You can’t conjure up a reason to care for or like them or the acts they are so nonchalantly vocal about.

‘Jethica’ sustains itself on a brand of comedy that is not wholesome for regular viewing either. Some jokes don’t land well. Moreover, the dialogues seem to be a patchwork, making this low-budget film lose the little credibility it gathers along the way. Ohs may be ambitious, but he overshoots the mark with this one.

Read More: The Summoned (2022) Review: A Cold Gimmicky Horror Full of Ideas but Short on Execution

Watch Jethica (2023) Trailer

Jethica (2023) Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
Jethica (2023) Cast: Callie Hernandez, Ashley Denise Robinson, Andy Faulkner
Where to watch Jethica

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