Ente (2023)

Rating: B-

Dir: Oscar Moreno
Star: Daniela Trevizo, Alejandra Galaviz, Veronica Perez-Torres, Dany Jay Gomez

This is the kind of weirdness that convinces me Tubi is the best streaming platform out there. It’s highly unlikely any other streaming would give room to it. There are over fifty thousand movies on Tubi. I will admit, many are crap. But the sheer breadth of content gives a chance for small movies like this to reach a potential audience they otherwise could only dream of, and that has to be applauded. What you have here is a very low-budget, black and white, grainy horror film, made in America but in Spanish, with a cast of barely a handful, and taking place almost entirely in one apartment. Netflix isn’t calling.

To be honest, this is not typically my kind of thing either. A few minutes in, I was getting Skinamarink vibes, and that’s an “elevated horror” entry I have, entirely deliberately, been avoiding like a bad case of haemorrhagic fever. However, this separates itself from Skinamarink by actually having a plot. Oh, don’t get me wrong. Moreno leans heavily on the button marked “atmosphere,” but at least does so in the service of a storyline, albeit a fairly slight one. [The film runs a brief 73 minutes, and even at that, occasionally feels padded] It’s the story of sisters Jessica (Trevizo) and Aurora (Galaviz). The former is plagued by weird occurrences, in particular visits from a ghostly figure called Eva, whom she feels was involved in the death of their father.

Aurora is considerably less than convinced, but the longer she stays with her sibling, the more difficult it becomes for her to deny the “reality” of what’s happening. Quotes used advisedly there, since the boundaries around it are melting like cheese fondue. There seems to be an audiovisual component to Eva’s presence – her name might be a nod towards the paranormal phenomenon of EVP. It’s not a film packed with effects, yet one is used to sublime result. Eva is given a coating of shimmering digital static (top, on the right, though the still doesn’t do it justice), which beautifully illustrates her otherworldly nature. It combines with the generally low-fi nature of the production to create a genuinely creepy result, easily on a par with far larger films.

Neither of the lead actresses seem to have much experience – it’s the only IMDb credit for each – and there are points where this does get in the way of the movie. The scenes together are generally fine, but when Jessica is on her own, her lines sometimes seem just that: lines. This becomes less of an issue the deeper we get into things, and it becomes easier to immerse yourself in the gradual breakdown of the boundary between this world and the “spirit” one. It ends in… well, a way that is highly ambivalent, and offers only limited answers. It’s the kind of thing I often find irritating, yet fits the tone here. A little like Anglerfish, this is perhaps not a film I’ll revisit. Yet it’s one I can still appreciate.