Short, “sweet”, and to the point – that’s how I like my short films. Of course, when they’re a horror short film, I also want some blood, ghouls, or terror. “Dama Branca” includes all of that – in just five minutes! During a conversation with director and star, Panta Mosleh, I was even further surprised that they filmed this in less than 24 hours and with a $500 budget! While not perfect, it was very well done and accomplished what a short horror film should entail. I just don’t know how or why it’s “queer”… Let’s break it down a bit more, shall we?
Synopsis of “Dama Branca”
Two women are driving along the road at night, with a third and younger woman in the back seat holding her leg. It’s quickly apparent that Amelia (Julie Bruns) and Heather (PantaMosleh) are in the middle of an argument, rehashing an accident that happened a bit earlier – which has left young Jenna (Corey Woods), Amelia’s sister injured. (We presume they’re driving back to town and the hospital.) Except while driving along the deserted road, Jenna spies a woman in white standing still alongside the road – covered in blood! After yelling at the other two to stop the car, the girls are puzzled because the woman Jenna saw has disappeared.
Until she suddenly is standing in front of the car – and all three of them see her this time! Ignoring the warnings of the legend of the Dama Branca, Heather and Amelia both get out of the car to look for this injured woman. Except she has hauntingly and creepily climbed into the car and went after Jenna. With Jenna now obviously dead, Heather suddenly attacks Amelia – almost as if she’s possessed. Amelia pushes Heather back against the car, which quickly results in Amelia’s death as she hits the ground. While blood pools underneath Heather, car headlights slowly shine on Amelia. But as she turns toward help, her eyes suddenly go black…
Overall, I enjoyed “Dama Branca.” As I noted at the start, the plot is rather simple yet disturbingly frightening. Basing it on a well-known urban legend, “The Woman in White” aka as “Dama Branca” among other names, was a good plot device too. Who doesn’t get scared by a random woman staring at you from the side of the road! Oooo freaky. The dialogue isn’t always the best, and on that note neither is the acting. I’ve witnessed the quarrels in the car… they usually are a lot nastier and cut-throat; the argument between Heather and Amelia felt like a “fake” fight between two sisters.
Cinematographically, it’s not perfect. The short film has the vibe of an amateur student film – or at least one with a very small production crew. Given that 1. they created the entire short film within a 24 hour period from start to finish, and 2. it was filmed during the time of Covid and most likely needed to keep within a small bubble. But those hurdles aside (and one they actually saw as a challenge to overcome!), “Dama Branca” did exactly what was needed for a horror short without dragging or getting lost in the plot. The short itself might have been thrown together rather quickly, but there is clearly talent behind the scenes of this small group!
Definitely make sure to catch this short horror film! It’s a great example of how a good succinct story can shine even when some of the other production values aren’t able to be pulled together. I can only imagine what this crew can do with a full crew and budget!