‘Terra Bella’ Review: The Strange Love Child of ‘Psycho’ and ‘Single White Female’

terra bella

Writer and director Hunter Johnson’s eccentric body of work has soared to new heights with his latest film Terra Bella. Fully shot in black/white and titled after what sounds like a local Italian restaurant, his vision begins in the head of main character Stefanie, who is full of fear and hopelessness, and faces an onslaught of internal self-doubt through continuous “stupid bitch” insults. It feels like Hitchcock’s Psycho merged with Single White Female to produce the strange, alluring offspring that is Terra Bella.

Corey (Hunter Johnson) is a very bad man. He’s a senseless, abusive, violent, and unpredictable sociopath who lives to instill fear in his beat-down girlfriend, Stefanie (Devanny Pinn) while scoring a position within a huge drug cartel to fuel his power-seeking ego. However, Stefanie finally finds a way out of the madness and takes full advantage of a small window of opportunity to “take the money and run”, hoping to start a new and happy life.

Easy to say, hard to do.

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As Stefanie is on the run after murdering her boyfriend and stealing the mob’s loot, she finds herself lost and confused in a desolate area when she’s approached by the overly charismatic Lily (Lara Jean Mummert), eager to befriend the vulnerable stranger and introduce her to a new world of impossible exuberance.

What follows is a fascinating reversal of Single White Female. Stefanie (who introduces herself as “Rose”) still pursues an escape from another bizarre situation, this time with a woman. Mummert plays Lily with a cloyingly sweet, bubbly, and perky delirium that immediately invokes suspicion in Rose. Her desperate need for attention and friendship is palpable and hard to avoid. However, you won’t want to run and miss the developing strangeness that Lara perfects in Lily’s wackiness. It absolutely shines.

As we watch Rose sink into her previous ill-fated habits (drugs, alcohol, and sex) her guard fades allowing Lily to step into a created role of dominance and control to mold her new “girlfriend” into the perfect mate. A perfect rose. A Terra Bella.

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Devanny Pinn is a chameleon, dancing her way through each scene with precision. The facial expressions of panic and terror articulate through her eyes alone as we root for Stefanie/Rose to escape the alarming predicament of simply befriending the seemingly lovely Lily. Throughout the derangement of Lily’s attachment to her dying mother, or the odd obsession with her new Terra Bella gift, we never lose sight of the upcoming brutality. It’s wonderfully fun to watch someone else’s psychosis come to fruition, so grab the popcorn and get ready.

The undertone of ongoing suspicion and peculiarity in Terra Bella sucks you into the madness immediately. Lying next to psychopath Corey after another day of plotting for freedom, we become part of Stefanie’s miserable mentality. Her short-lived liberty sadly plucks her from one extreme confinement to another with mounting anxiety and dread. This is bleak, deranged, and delightful in all its obscurity.



‘Terra Bella’ is bleak, deranged, and delightful in all its obscurity.


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