By Amy R. Handler | April 24, 2014

A married couple is overjoyed in anticipation of their new baby’s birth. Unfortunately, they’re doomed to experience a very rude awakening.

Director Daniel Afcha and writer Sheen Mercado have conjured up a psychological thriller second to none with their new short film, Mia Colpa. The story revolves around Gabe and Mia, a husband and wife very much in love with life, and each other. When the story begins, Mia discovers that she’s pregnant and excitedly shows her pregnancy test to Gabe. Soon, the happy couple begins preparing their modest home for the new arrival, and can hardly wait for the happy day to arrive. Finally, when Mia’s time comes, the two set off for the emergency room with not a second to spare. Not long after, Mia and Gabe return home, sadly without their child, who’s assumed stillborn. While this in itself is devastating, it’s what happens later that’s unfathomable.

Though the basic plot of Mia Colpa is hardly novel, the way it plays out is uniquely suspenseful and disturbing. Structurally, the film begins with a song, while the happy couple goes about their business of discovery and excited anticipation of parenthood. Interestingly, dialogue between Mia and Gabe isn’t heard until a bit over four minutes into the movie—and quite a while after we figure out that the baby is dead. The end of silence comes as a jolt to those of us who’ve been tricked into thinking we’re viewing a modern silent film, minus the intertitles.

The two principal actors, Haely Jardas and Hez Surmaty, who portray Mia and Gabe, respectively, are outstanding in every way possible. Both are able to convey their most interior thoughts both silently and in speech, and both aspects are a treat to behold. In spite of the talents of Jardas, Surmaty and their supporting cast members, and the fact that Afcha’s film is a narrative, Mia Colpa never feels like it’s strictly character-driven. This in itself is extraordinary and extremely interesting.

Mia Colpa brims with surprises, so viewer-complacency never happens, even when we settle into the story and believe we’ve figured out what will happen next. Then, when the unimaginable does take place, all we can ask is, “What, why and how did that happen?” If only Mia Colpa were a feature length movie, as opposed to a far too swiftly moving short…

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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