*Online Premiere* In rural South Carolina, a God-fearing family with a flirtatious sixteen-year-old daughter invites a mysterious man to their home. This Southern Gothic drama from director Alan Scott Neal and writer Lindsey Johnson is an exploration of a young woman coming of age, and an unsettling tale of redemption and lust, in that order.
Honey is a high school student looking for more than boys her age can offer. At a field party, sitting in the back of a pickup truck, she tries to move in on a young man smoking a cigarette. When her advances don’t work (he’s looking for someone ‘right with the Lord’), she looks elsewhere. And it just so happens that the next day at church, the congregation is witness to a man named Leander throwing himself down on the old hardwood planks begging for forgiveness from a life of sin. Honey takes notice. After service, the family invites him to come fishing on their property, and Honey is eager to show him around.
Carried by two terrific lead performances — Kristine Froseth as a teenage temptress longing for adulthood, and Raoul Max Trujillo as a broken older man praying for new beginnings — “Pretty Is” feels equally literary and cinematic. Though it takes place in the 1990’s, it features timeless characterizations of the struggle with identity and self-control. And it’s wonderfully shot and edited too, including a vivid soundscape alternating between quietly ominous score and just as ominous pastoral ambience. (16 minutes). Directed by Alan Scott Neal. Starring Kristine Froseth, Raoul Max Trujillo. Written by Lindsey Johnson. Producers: Taylor Kowalski and Anna-Nora Bernstein. Cinematographer: Michael Ormiston. Editor: Charles E. Horton.