The film's characters are all clichés. There's the womanizing, windblown, badass grandpa; the resentful, fearful mother trapped in her hurtful past; and the town drunk, chiming in with his two cents from his pool of drool on the bar. The beautiful damsel in distress, the meathead abusive boyfriend, the opportunistic harlot — they're all here. And the young, able-bodied characters' violent resistance to the idea of leaving their hometown is largely unexplained and hard to believe. An extended monologue from Bubbs's best friend Kenny (Keith Hudson) states that living circumscribed lives in St. Augustine is their destiny, and that they should never leave. This crippling agoraphobia would be appropriate in a science fiction film set in an alternate, Twilight Zone-esque reality, but as a stab at realism in a world made small by globalization, it's ridiculous. It's no help that the development of the relationship between Bubbs and Corey is flimsy, making their connection — which is essential to the story line — difficult to grasp.

Still, by low-budget indie standards, the film is sweet, even if it's also predictable and prosaic. Even as the action unfolds to its finish, we couldn't help smiling at a few cute final touches, even if the ends are sewn up a bit hastily. Camille Lamb

7 p.m. Saturday, March 10, at O Cinema. Tickets cost $12.

Underground Hip-Hop in China
Underground Hip-Hop in China

Hombre y Tierra

Mauro Bosque (Mauricio Ripke) is a man on two missions. He's traveled to Belize to film an episode of Hombre y Tierra, his own web series in which he ventures into the wilderness, Bear Grylls-style, to show off his survival skills. But this destination has particular meaning for Bosque; along the way, he hopes to explore the Mayan cave sites that his grandmother used to tell him about when he was a child. When he discovers that those caves aren't on the route planned for him by his corporate sponsors, he instigates an arrogant confrontation with his producer and takes it upon himself to veer off course.

Director Christian Cisneros's film is in MIFF's "Mayhem" category, so it's no surprise that things don't end well for poor Mauro. Something is following him through the forest, making strange noises and stealing his gear. Bosque's shaky, hand-held camerawork amplifies the suspense in a way reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project (minus the threat of motion sickness, thankfully).

But the film undermines that suspense with inconsistencies and a vague plot. In some scenes, Bosque films himself explaining how to use a compass and light a fire — but wouldn't earlier webisodes have covered these basics? We know next to nothing about the creature — Ghost? Monster? Chupacabra? Jungle cat? — that keeps roaring at him and rustling around outside his tent. And though he refers to his grandmother's stories about the Mayan caves, he never actually tells us the stories. Were they cursed? Filled with treasure? Both? Do they have anything to do with whatever's stalking him? Not a clue.

The goal of any scary story is to make its audience's imaginations run wild with fear. But at the end of Hombre y Tierra, the only thing we feared was a sequel. Ciara LaVelle

9:30 p.m., Friday, March 9, at Regal Cinemas South Beach (1120 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; 305-674-6766; regmovies.com). Tickets cost $12.

For more films, times, tickets, and other information, visit cultist miami.com or miamifilmfestival.com.

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