Review: Pretty Pickle

Written and directed by Jim Vendiola, as he spends more time with his new girlfriend, a young man begins to privately dwell upon one of her quirks, leading him to a troubling discovery. Starring: Whitney Masters, Brennan Urbi, Nadja Simmonds and Jamie Newell.

Horror and comedy are a perfect duo, embracing absurdity while showing how reality itself can be ridiculous, and what better topic to choose than modern dating? A horror that most people prefer to watch than experience themselves. Interestingly, Jim Vendiola chooses to keep the suspicion and sinister nature simply lingering in the background for most of the film, letting your imagination lead you to the finale. While you may guess the general direction, it’s satisfyingly twisted enough that you won’t be able to predict it entirely. Its big reveal is a really fun, laugh out loud moment, hitting the perfect ratio of funny, outrageous and silly. It doesn’t get too dark but it peppers enough of it in there.

One of the more subtle choices is the throwbacks to classic devices in horror, which feeds into both the direction and the writing. Starting off with the choice of black and white, then there’s the slow zoom and the editing to add in moments of being convinced our protagonist is reading too much into it, while deepening the mystery and ominous feel. There’s also a great use of typical curious pauses, moments where our lead is asked a question about something that he’s not sure he ever divulged. As well as some good old fashioned emotional manipulation. Pretty Pickle also has a surprising penchant for sex scenes, it’s a risky choice as they’re tricky to pull off. It does ultimately lean on them a little too much, it would have been nice to balance them out more with the comedy but they are used well and avoid being gratuitous. It’s the type of choice that will work better for some viewers than others but it is simultaneously a nice nod to the age-old question of how much men will ignore so long as sex is on the cards?.

The atmosphere of menacing potential sincerely takes the forefront here, playing as much of a part as its actors, with their performances accenting and flourishing it. Cleverly, it means that we don’t actually have to learn much about these characters for the story to work. Brennan Urbi gives us the guy in a new relationship, curious but enjoying the connection and regular sex too much to question things decidedly. While Whitney Masters leaves her character satisfyingly open to not clue you in too quickly to her hidden side, playing with controlling, manipulative and overly affectionate. The two of them easily capture that new stage relationship, they have a connection but it’s not overly comfortable, it’s still in the discovery stage.

Pretty Pickle holds a clear love of horror and satisfyingly blends it with comedy to create something just the right amount of absurd. It has a great atmosphere and uses classic devices alongside some more modern additions. It’s unpredictable, well paced and while it may favour the sex scene a little too much, it has a great handle on the tone, editing and framing. It rolls its credits slightly earlier than you might expect, leaving you wanting more but lets you fill in the gaps with your own imagination.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10

Screening at HollyShorts 2022 on August 13

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