It’s difficult to look away from the character Nayeli once she makes her initial appearance on-screen. Played by Ruth Ramos, Nayeli’s character is a seventeen-year-old girl whose presence is imbued with a sort of quiet power; a true sense of presence that lingers even when she isn’t following through with any particular gesture, or even speaking. This is until a brutal assault leads our protagonist down a path that leads her in the direction of uncovering abilities, all too real.
Serving as our sole vessel into a strange circle of women who fully embody their existence as living curses upon the abusers who have overlooked their inherent powers, Nayeli’s arc is a vengeful one, to say the least.
Stemming from a long lineage of rape-revenge narratives, as they have been coined within the genre, ‘Diabla’ is rather unique in its evocation of a very particular essence of folk tradition and culture as it relates to this film’s sequence of events. Nayeli’s solution is borne of the community in which she lives, as we are shown through the film’s numerous tracking sequences while she navigates this place she seems to call home.
These public spaces through which Nayeli roams are filled with symbols and tools crafted with the intention of calling upon the supernatural. This is interesting when taking into consideration the glimpse that we, as an audience, are offered of Nayeli’s making the sign of the cross as she passes before a Christ statue preceding her eventual foray into witchcraft…or so her new practice seems to be an amalgamation of. It certainly makes me wonder how both systems of belief manage to coexist within her single frame of being. Although this never manifests itself as a source of palpable tension as it relates to her moral makeup or sense of integrity as a character in terms of making decisions within the narrative.
‘Diabla’ was produced by Maya Korn, whose company MHK Productions aims to lend a platform to cultures that are often overlooked by film and television. Director Ashley George is also a creator inspired by new perspectives, which directly circles back into why ‘Diabla’ feels so expansive and refreshing despite its familiar premise.
The filmmakers behind ‘Diabla’ lend the narrative a great deal of space to breathe as the piece unfolds. Hence why the short stands as something undoubtedly complete yet also brimming with the potential and space to dive even deeper into the intricacies of Nayeli’s venture into her feminine power as she wields it against her assailant(s).
It comes as no surprise to me that ‘Diabla’ has done very well for itself amidst the festival circuit. Not to mention the film’s winning Best Overall Short at the 2020 Women in Horror Film Festival amongst many others.
Short Film Showcase: Diabla’s Heroine and the Resonance of Quiet Power in Horror