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Val-en-tina (2015) Movie Review

When a high profile politician makes a controversial statement on immigration reform, he soon finds himself in hot water with his powerful, Mexican-American mistress and awakens a dark entity that, until now, has walked undisturbed alongside her.

Written by Jaquita Ta'leCarlton Byrd
Directed by Araeia Robinson

Almost any horror film has the capability of being read as inheritently political. There's a message one viewer receives based on their own educated observations about the world around them. Currently in 2016 with an explosive election cycle in the United States for our next president, the overtly political genre films being released are buzzing about, making valuable use of its accuracy in this very moment.

Alongside The Purge: Election Year, a quiet, genre short titled Val-en-tina tackles a more concentrated politically charged issue and also manages to bring up even more unsettling charges: racism, classism, miscegenation and fetishization. That's a mouthful, I agree. But the tension and intention placed within its eight minute runtime bubbles to the surface and provides a right scolding.

Valentina (Marisol Sacramento) may be the "exception" to political head James Clarington (Jon Lindstrom), but her refusal to remove herself from her ethic, cultural, and racial legacy carries with her something eerie that manifests when provoked. Even if she presented herself as someone oblivious to her privilege, that something would still be a part of who she is. Without spoiling the film, James' typical response fuels the debate, and it's Valentina we're invested in exploring more.

The topic in Val-en-tina  is well established, but more time attached to the narrative could benefit its exposition. Considering the supernatural element, I'm tempted to assert that it isn't directly linked to repression considering our title character's passionate stance, but in a lot of ways, it probably is. That's what left me frustrated with the film's ending. Val-en-tina taps its toes in visuals and relies heavily on what it conceals which leaves it a little unbalanced.

However, there's definitely a thirst for more of what this film offers. There's something special within Val-en-tina and it deserves more screen time. More madness. More dread. And much more of Valentina's story.

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