Portland Horror Film Festival: La Ciguapa Siempre

Year: 2021n

Runtime: 13 minutes

Director/Writer: Monica Moore-Suriyage

Actors: Cheyenne Washington, Michael Bonini, Jillian Kinsey, Lotus Lain

By Joan Amenn

A Ciguapa is a mythical creature from Dominican folklore. It appears to be an attractive woman and is sometimes referred to as a “mermaid of the woods” because they typically can be found in forested areas. They are also said to be capable of being lethal, especially to unsuspecting men who travel through their regions alone.

“La Ciguapa Siempre” is a chilling short film of a woman recognizing her own empowerment seen through the lens of horror. Director Monica Moore-Suriyage, who is no stranger to the genre, also wrote the subtly creepy script. Her choice of making this particular folkloric creature the basis of her film is clever in how it turns the genre trope of frightened female lead on its head.  Milagro (Cheyenne Washington) wants to know about her past since she is adopted and is seeking out her birth parents. Alone in the woods with her boyfriend Davis, (Michael Bonini) she vents her frustration in finding no record of them.

Davis is a seemingly supportive companion but doubts quickly surface about his loyalties. Milagro is vulnerable to a man who is less than trustworthy because she so wants acceptance she is blind to being manipulated. Davis calls her “Millie” because he says it’s cuter and less “intense” than her real name. This quiet reveal of his underlying discomfort with her strength as a woman is a clever touch by Davis. There is more to Milagro than even she realizes at first, but she will learn more about herself by the end of the night.

The “Cigaupa” is depicted as folklore describes them but there will be no spoilers here as to what they look like. Your hair will stand up on end at the reveal which is simple, elegant and truly horrifying. “La Ciguapa Siempre” works as a short horror story and as a metaphor for the power that can be unleashed when women band together.


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