“Hijo por Hijo,” a short film that will be shown at the New Jersey International Film Festival in New Brunswick on June 11, packs a lot of tension and suspense into its 11 minutes.
The film — which is in Spanish (with English subtitles) and was written and directed by Juan Avella — opens with a Venezuelan man, Daivi (Oliver Morillo), sitting in his car, talking tenderly to his young son. The sweetness ends abruptly, though, when Edinson (Ernesto Campos) pushes a teenaged girl, Corina (María Machado Alesia) into the back seat, and they drive off.
Daivi is not as benign as he first appeared. He’s a kidnapper, and Edinson is his partner, and Corina is their victim. Daivi and Edinson go about the business of contacting Corina’s father and demanding ransom money casually; they’ve clearly done this many times before.
They soon have a problem, though. Corina’s father calls them back and tells them they’ve messed with the wrong person: He says he has retaliated by kidnapping Daivi’s son, and swears that Daivi will see him again only if he releases Corina within 15 minutes. Corina tells Daivi and Edison that her father used to be in the military, and is now in the department of defense.
(The title of the film, by the way, means “Child for Child” in English.)
Daivi and Edinson don’t know if he’s bluffing or not. But Daivi, understandably, wants to release Corina, just in case. Edinson argues that it’s impossible for Corina’s dad to work so quickly, and that if they let Corina go, their boss — presumably some kind of fierce ganglord — will kill them both.
The clock is ticking …
I don’t want to give away the ending, so I’ll stop there — except to say that “Hijo por Hijo” will keep you on the edge of your seat, like a tense standoff from a Quentin Tarantino movie, standing on its own.
“Hijo por Hijo” will be shown at Voorhees Hall at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, June 11 at 5 p.m., as part of the summer portion of the New Jersey International Film Festival. For information, visit njfilmfest.com.
Here is the trailer: