Horror Short, 17 min
When her devoutly Catholic mother walks in on her and her girlfriend, a 15-year-old girl is sent to the local church to undergo conversion therapy.
A tense genre short that delivers a unique take on conversion therapy
Maricruz follows the story of a Los Angeles teenager, who is sent to conversion therapy after her devout Catholic mother walks in on her with her girlfriend. While this initially seems like a religious institute like any other, it quickly transpires that this is actually a cult, dedicated to making vampires out of young, impressionable teenagers. While Maricruz manages to get away initially, she has to return to face the leader of the cult, Father Azarola, to stop him from going after her girlfriend. Given the fact that genre films are rare when it comes to LGBTQ+ cinema, the short’s unapologetic incorporation of the macabre feels like a breath of fresh air. Using the horror/fantasy genre to examine a practice like conversion therapy is a very interesting move.
With the long cinematic history of vampires as both religious and sexual metaphors, this literal and monstrous approach to ‘conversion’ results in a mixing of visual languages that is unlike any mainstream LGBTQ+ representation so far. Another intriguing aspect of the short, is that all the dialogue is in equal parts in Spanish and English. This shouldn’t be surprising, given the film’s setting of Los Angeles, but all too often the linguistic diversity of the United States is left behind in cinema, and unfortunately particularly in LGBTQ+ related media. It feels oddly comforting to see one character speak in Spanish, and another respond in English, as this is a dynamic that screenwriters rarely display, despite it being so common in everyday life.
The only disappointing aspect of this short is its runtime – the short leaves you wanting to know more about Maricruz, her background and her family, and what exactly led to the formation of the cult. It would be very interesting indeed to see what director Christine McAuliffe could do if she had the opportunity to adapt this short into a feature film.
TRAILER BELOW – TRIGGER WARNING FOR FLASHING IMAGES/VIOLENT SCENES.
This review was written by:
Pippa is a writer and researcher, who is currently preparing her PhD research on LGBT+ experiences in Higher Education. She's working very hard to watch every LGBT+ film ever made.
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