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The Brazilian short film Lasagna! is an exercise in subversion. Take the title - with a name like that, the audience expects something light-hearted. As the opening plays, a loud party song begins pounding as two women drunkenly chat with each other, luring the viewer into a sense of security once again. Once the party music stops, our lead Bea wakes up in an unfamiliar room. Thinking she must have had a one night stand, she ventures out to meet her suitor. From here, Lasagna! delivers a gripping psychological thriller.

When Bea heads out into the kitchen, she meets Caetano, a young man who claims to be friends with Bea’s party buddy. Bea, clearly uncomfortable, attempts to leave, but Caetano insists that she must stay because he made some delicious lasagna. After all, she owes him since he cleaned her up after a night of partying, right? Reluctant, Bea agrees and desperately tries to text her friend for assistance. Caetano coyly smiles at her and informs her that they get no cell service at his house. Clearly, something is not right.

The actor who plays Caetano, Yorran Furtado, does an excellent job portraying this cracked, desperate young man. Caetano is desperate for a mother figure in his life - the photos on his bed stand suggest that he may have lost his own mother recently - and he whimpers and throws tantrums when Bea tries to escape. His mannerisms would be acceptable if he were a child, not a grown man, and Furtado really sells the character’s twisted personality. He also happens to have adult braces, which actually helps elevate this idea that Caetano is little more than a grown child.

As the short continues, we watch as Caetano forces Bea to act as a surrogate for his mother. It’s a classic unsettlingly villain motive - there’s nothing more frightening than an unstable mommy’s boy. Just look at Psycho! Since the film takes place primarily in Caetano’s small house, there’s a claustrophobic atmosphere. This raises the tension and really sells the kidnapping angle - you, too, are trapped like Bea in this creepy, clean home.

Caetano constantly gaslights Bea, too. He says that Bea owes him; that he deserves to be taken care of after he “took care” of her. He makes himself seem innocent in this whole incident, which adds a compelling layer of psychological distress. He’s pathetic but continues to be terrifying.

Lasagna! is a well-done horror short that accomplishes quite a bit within its 12 minutes running time. The story is well-executed, and the horror of it all really sells. The climax is excellent and satisfying, wrapping the whole incident up well. The film is a great lesson in why you always need a buddy with you on the train after a night of partying - you don’t want a creep like Caetano luring you off and forcing you to eat his eggplant lasagna. Really, the true villain here is Bea’s friend, Tina, for leaving her alone to fall into his clutches!


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