Gino Vento and Randy Gonzalez in Amigos

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Randy Gonzalez is sitting on a gold mine. Actually, it’s a short film called Amigos, but I’m not sure that in the long run “gold mine” wouldn’t be a more accurate term.

The horror comedy short has only just begun its festival run, but it’s already generating big buzz for its timely subject matter, intense performances, and darkly comedic moments.

In the film, two Latino men (Gonzalez and his co-director Gino Vento) find themselves chained to a radiator by a white guy who claims he’s trying to save them. Little do they know that he really is, and their worst nightmare is just outside the door…

No I’m not going to tell you what happens, of course. I will say, however, that Amigos looks deep into the issues of racism in America and poses a terrifying possibly not-too-distant future.

I had the good fortune of not only meeting but speaking on a panel with Gonzalez at this year’s Nightmares Film Festival in Columbus, Ohio, and he agreed to sit down and chat with me about his journey and how the film came to be.

“I’ve known Gino [Vento] for a long time,” he explained. “We were in a hardcore punk band and toured the world together before we ever decided to try acting. We went to acting classes and started getting booked at auditions, and finally, I was like ‘We should try directing and making our own movie.’ It was just the next step.”

They decided a short film would work best for their first solo project and they sat down to hammer out a concept that they thought would work when they hit on something they both knew all too well.

“We were trying to figure out why two guys could be trapped in this apartment,” Gonzalez said. “Why would they be there? What could be so scary? And I said, ‘Well, racism is terrifying,’ and we knew exactly where we were going from there.”

The film tackles racism and its fallout without flinching. There are monsters in Amigos but the monsters are all-too-human, and like so many horror comedies the laughter is born out of very real tension.

Horror has always tapped into societal fears, reaching into the dark parts of the collective unconscious and creating pathways for audiences to purge their anxieties, and Gonzalez and Vento navigate this landscape beautifully.

“With everything that’s going on right now and with the person who is in office at the moment, there just seems to be this hate coming off people right now,” he said. “They see someone in office promoting that kind of vibe to people in marginalized communities, and they think they can do it, too.”

It’s a hard reality for many to face, but no one feels it more keenly than members of those marginalized communities right now which is why Gonzalez and Vento have been so excited about audience reception for the film.

“That’s the best feeling as a first time filmmaker,” Gonzalez pointed. “I’ve seen it with two audiences now and they laughed and cheered at the same parts both times. And hearing the applause at the end? That’s just awesome.”

Amigos is currently making the rounds on the film festival circuit so there’s a good chance that it will be playing near you soon! Check out the trailer below.