Kelley (Danielle Lapointe) has a problem that is strangling her, literally, in the new short Don’t Text Back. After connecting with Will (PY Letellier) on a dating app and accepting a necklace from him, Kelley is strangled by the gold gift around her neck until she returns Will’s incessant texts. Kelley hopes that a visit to an energy healer will break the spell. What transpires is a playfully glib, often funny horror short that isn’t as savage as it could be but is just as entertaining.
Jaren (Nancy Webb), invites Kelley into her pristine, white, energy healing living room and, in a hilarious bit, the two diagnose the issue. Jaren busts out the “Guy Problems” crystal, which is the size of a bowling ball, and the digging continues. As the two women unravel the mystery behind this mysterious necklace, a commentary on heteronormative relationships and their toxic cycles begin to bubble to the surface, along with Kelley’s latent sexual proclivities. Will Jaren uncover the magic that binds Kelley to the necklace?
“…Kelley is strangled by the gold gift around her neck until she returns Will’s incessant texts.”
Writing and directing duo Mariel Sharp and Kaye Adelaide keep things light and breezy while poking fun at the debilitating conventions of the modern dating scene. Dating apps, douchey musicians, and restraint all get fleeting moments of brilliant observation. Along the way, Lapointe’s Jaren spills out wonderfully funny lines, correcting Kelley on everything from the dangers of processed sugar to the respect of dead things as much as anything living. There is some really funny stuff here, and actors Letellier and Lapointe handle the material well.
Don’t Text Back is a solid horror-comedy short that succeeds in entertaining despite feeling slightly “safe.” I want to see more from Sharp and Adelaide as the two have a great cinematic voice that is as inviting as it is clever. The script showed a level of insight and understanding of the current social climate in broad strokes and nuance that made me chuckle. Next time though, give us more teeth. Show us more claws. The punchline of the story rises to the level of wicked commentary that I hoped to see throughout, so we know the filmmakers are capable.
"…Sharp and Adelaide...have a great cinematic voice that is as inviting as it is clever."