We all know the things you’re never supposed to talk about on a first date: politics, religion, and past relationships. Sometimes, though, despite knowing we shouldn’t and despite our best intentions, we still somehow find ourselves ranting about the last election or saying something vaguely rude about the Pastafarians and then discovering that your date is one. In the short film Reina, our first glimpse of Seth (Sergio Castillo) is of him telling a long, emotional, clearly not appropriate for a first date story about being cruelly separated from Reina, his longtime love. Meanwhile, Seth’s date Michelle (Kat Pena) is playing on her phone and occasionally almost pretending to care about his tale of woe. So you know there’s very little chance of a second date at this point.
Realizing his mistake, Seth apologizes profusely and manages to talk the apparently extremely forgiving Michelle into starting over with a drink at the bar down the street. Unfortunately, they realize too late that they’ve walked into a dangerous situation, as Dmitry, Sergey, and Vlad (Ron Orlovsky, Travis Mitchell of Partitioned_Heart, and Woodrow Proctor) are up to no good. For a while, it seems as though this is one awkward date that might end up as a tragedy instead of just a horror story to share with friends. But much to everyone’s surprise, it seems as though Reina — or at least her full, sad story — just might change everything.
Despite how dire it might sound, this is absolutely a comedy, with Dmitry’s gang sometimes in danger of stealing all their scenes with their antics. But it’s also a comedy with heart, as it delves into some of the more painful experiences all humans share and how they can help bring us together — even with people we might normally be terrified of. Pena as Michelle speaks volumes with her expressions, clearly often convinced that she’s the only sensible person in the room. Castillo’s hapless Seth is a decent guy but also seems to be one of those magnets for trouble and bizarre events, and sometimes seems to be barely muddling through. The end result of throwing all these characters together is a charmingly funny film that’s both sweet and a little zany, realistic and over the top. It’s one of the worst — and the best — first date stories you’ll ever hear.