Hékate (2022)

Director: Nadia Benedicto

Running Time: 77 Minutes

Starring: Sabrina Macchi, Rosario Varela, Federico Liss, Julieta Brito

Opening on dogwalker Kira (Rosario Varela) at work, she's suddenly bitten by the last dog she returns to their owner. She's invited inside to bandage her hand, where Helena (Sabrina Macchi) warns her boyfriend Juan (Federico Liss) that something must be done about the dog. His flippant response leads into a tense situation which Juan manipulates from drinks to dinner, as Kira finds herself unable to escape the situation which unbearably builds up before reaching a monstrous act of rape.

The situation which began with female violence continued in kind, before Juan is knocked unconscious and bound in the back of a car. Kira is quick to act, taking control of the situation as though she's had prior experience, while Helena struggles to grapple with what's happened. The women are left on a road-trip with no destination in mind, as writer/director Nadia Benedicto delivers a slow-burn that's constantly captivating.

Benedicto captures the horrors of abuse through a fable style, as six arms wielding torches and a deity emerging from the woods are depicted alongside the psychological aftermath of abuse. While a third protagonist introduced feels unneeded, the most powerful moments lie in the stories shared by these haunted survivors.

The performers exceptionally convey their character's pain, with the standout being Macchi as the most recent victim. She delivers the films strongest moment, conveying how Helena's regular trauma left her imagining a grim outcome for herself. Through these unfolding events and small moments of comfort, Helena finds the hope she's been missing for so long, as the female suffering transforms into empowerment.

Hékate had its UK Premiere at SoHome Horror Pride Virtual Festival