Coyote is an intense short thriller about betrayal and love. The short film revolves around a human trafficking incident gone wrong; one of girls that had been captured, escapes. And it may have been an inside job.

The short opens on a woman running for her life through an open desert. She’s out of breath, visibly scared, and possibly even more at threat with the endless scenery of nothing. We then cut to Ramon, the trafficking leader, and he doesn’t like she escaped one bit. It shows during a rather intimidating interrogation where the premise of the short is revealed. Ramon is terrifyingly untrustworthy. The short picks up from there where we sense some tension due to the loss of trust between Ramon and his henchmen. Are they a part of this girl escaping and running away? Why would they betray him? Ramon sends one henchman to stay with the girls that are in the back of a van; the other one he commands ride with him to ride through the desert to find this escapee. We thought the opening scene was intense, but the car ride tops that and makes the ending that much more impactful. With the very last shot we are left an important question: what would you do in this exact situation?

The cinematography and editing in this were fantastic. Each shot echoes the tension that slowly creeps up throughout the short. Each cut reveals more about the characters and more about the situation. Both combined will make somebody feel that much more isolated, but closer than ever to a threat we wouldn’t want to wish on anybody. It’s claustrophobia in an endless open setting.

The acting of all the characters, especially the character of Ramon, really helps sell this short film as being a realistic representation. The actor brings this man to life like none other and really forces his true intentions to seep through each word he says. The henchmen are equally as good, although they have very few lines, their actions depict everything their character stands for and as the film progresses, we get a sense of dread that falls upon both of their heads. Any one of them can end up being the scapegoat for the escapee. And of course, the woman the short is centered around, even though we mostly see her run and cry for help, we can tell she is genuinely terrified. The last couple minutes of the film makes her character really stand out and is a nice parallel to the character of Ramon.

What really makes this film is the directing. We can see the vision the director had in mind and see that it was well thought-out and executed very nicely. The direction of the actors, the direction of the shots to cause more tension, and the direction of what needs to be focused on to let the special moments shine, all work in his favor.

There are moments that we can barely breathe as an audience, and those moments are ones we will value the most, because it’s only for a few seconds before we have hold onto our breathes again for an uncertain amount of time.Although we are left in the end with an open question of sorts, it feels deliberate on the director’s part to force us to think outside of the box, and it works well with what the thematic elements offer in the short itself: the risk of doing the right thing; the risk of lying; and the most important thing… the risk of sacrificing yourself.