Short Film Review: Ride with the Guilt

Fans of Dario Argento and David Fincher will love Ride with the Guilt, a visceral short tale of paranoia, confusion, and dread.

Awaking in the backseat of a car on a dark and rainy night, Monica Caravan (Cecile Sinclair) tries to figure out why she’s there and why her hands are covered in blood with the help of dark, mysterious figure, Clarice (Rebecca Calienda), who provides more questions than answers.

Director Dario Bocchini had clear intentions for his filmmaking debut by combining experimental cinematography and a non-linear narrative.

The red and blue colour palette is hauntingly effective. Usually representing authority in the form of the police coming to save the final girl, here it feels claustrophobic and trance-like.

Many camera shots show us the characters reflected in mirrors, which feels symbolic of trying to see who you really are. Even the credits, bold in yellow and red, are slanted to give the sensation of being off kilter, not yourself.

There is a stark contrast in the two females: Monica is fragile, make up free, and vulnerable compared with chain-smoking Clarice, strong in dark make-up. We wonder what the connection is between these women and we are fed titbits about a clinic as Monica pops pills.

I love non-linear storytelling and it’s used to high effect in Ride with the Guilt as we delve back into Monica’s memory.

From the offset, we see something is wrong with her mental state by the way she applies her lipstick. She’s almost catatonic in her marriage to perfect husband, Bruce (Harris Vaughan). She’s unfocused, absent. Things are happening to her and she’s simply going through the motions. There’s clearly something very wrong and we wonder how her husband can’t see it.

I thoroughly enjoyed Ride with the Guilt. Although the storyline is one we’ve seen before, the acting is strong and the music is perfect – chilling and shrill, creating a sense of dread. The backseat camera shots are foreboding like someone is watching you, making you check over your shoulder. There is also some great, ambiguous imagery such as the pouring of red wine.

I won’t spoil the twist for you, but I highly recommend watching this short again to spot the clues, notably the use of mirror shots, the lit cigarette on the dining table, and the Alice in Wonderland bobble head figurine on the dashboard.

Nightmarish and mysterious, Ride with the Guilt is a horror short that will leave you in turmoil long after the credits have rolled.

You can watch Ride with the Guilt now on Vimeo.

By Cat Dunn

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