What if your shitty Tinder date won’t stop texting you? Bad enough, right? But what if he sends you a cursed necklace when you ghost him?
This is the story behind Don’t Text Back, a spooky short that premiered this month at Nightstream. The event, which streams premium horror shorts and features, is a collaboration between five film festivals that weren’t able to proceed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Written and directed by Kaye Adelaide and Mariel Sharp, Don’t Text Back follows Kelley (Danielle Lapointe), who seeks the help of “energy healer and graphic designer” Jaren (Nancy Webb) to rid herself of cursed necklace that chokes her every time she doesn’t text back her shithead date.
“What kind of shithead?” Jaren asks her, “next-level meme lord, philosophy bro, Costco daddy, line cook?” Turns out he’s a rich-parents, struggling-musician shithead who is desperate for Kelley to come see his band play. And as Jaren scans his dating profile, she notices a symbol. “Fuck, this is bad,” she mutters. “Oh my God, is it a satanic cult?” Kelley cries. “Worse, a men’s-rights group.”
As they proceed to destroy the horcrux, we learn that the reason it’s clinging so hard to Kelley is that a part of her wants the shithead’s attention. Jaren forces her to imagine her life with him — flipping through photos of him smoking blunts and wearing snapbacks, playing guitar with his face covered in sweaty bangs.
Quippy, funny, and unsettling — with a run time under 15 minutes — Don’t Text Back does what a good horror should: take a real-life terror, like an entitled man, and turn it into a surreal, life-threatening ordeal.
See Don’t Text Back and more at the Nightstream film festival.