Writer Santiago Taboada (A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio, Gotas segment) and director Javier Yañez Sanz team up for Equals, an adaptation of a horror manga by Shun Umezawa. The result is a twenty-minute exploration of a relationship gone very wrong.
Ruth (Dominga Bofill, Trauma) finds out Alex (Jorge Clemente, The Last Circus) is cheating on her. When she confronts him he becomes abusive and tells her he wants her out by the time he gets home from work. In flashbacks, we see how they went from meeting via a dating app to moving in together. And how it all went wrong
Then we see just how true “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” can be.
Equals is also a tale of losing one’s self to another. We watch as Ruth takes on more and more of Alex’s personality and habits. He smokes so she starts as well. He gets a tattoo, she gets a matching one. She begins to stop being Ruth and becomes a version of Alex.
There are two ways of looking at this. She poured everything she had into the relationship, which makes his betrayal all the worse. Or by changing so much she destroyed what attracted him to her in the first place. That doesn’t justify his infidelity, but it does shift the blame for the relationship falling apart.
To me, Equals starts feeling distinctly creepy when she gets her hair cut just like his. She’s taken the phrase “two people become one” a bit too literally. I wouldn’t blame him for ending the relationship at that point but he makes another choice. And that has consequences.
Given what we learn in Equals’ last act, it’s a possibility that simply ending it before the affair wouldn’t have changed things. But he certainly didn’t make things any better either.
Part relationship drama, part psychological horror, Equals is an effective short film. It played this year’s Horror-On-Sea festival and will probably be playing others. In the meantime, you can see more of Sanz’s work on his website.