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Rayane (Bebé Salvego) is better than the average teenager going through more than her share in the new short film Boi de Conchas (The Shell Covered Ox). Her sister has gone missing, along with several other youths in the community. While struggling with this loss, Rayane begrudgingly works with her father and his fishing business while dreaming of making a big splash with her new band at her school’s music festival.

This is all pretty standard fare, but writer-director Daniel Barosa has more in mind. It also seems that there is a strange influx of oxen in the area. Cleverly utilizing cutaways to social media posts and texts between the teenagers, we learn that they have figured out that the missing teenagers have merely become the oxen filling the town. Who will be picked off next? Who will turn up as cattle? How will frightened Rayane move forward with her life, hopes, and dreams when her town is flooded with ivory-colored livestock?

Barosa uses a very disparate way of presenting the elements of his story. Dreamlike imagery of stray dogies on the beach is paired with very honest moments of everyday life. It seems that the idea is to offer moments that are created to allow the audience to piece moments together, forming some sort of conclusion. For me, things were a little understated with motifs not quite connecting as they should.

Where Boi de Conchas (The Shell Covered Ox) shines are the moments depicting Rayane finding her way in a sea of confusion. Her world has changed with loss, she chases her dreams in music and is followed by the supernatural mystery that makes sense of tragedy. Salvego is very good in her portrayal of troubled Rayane. She certainly owns the screen, but the material here is more observational than overt.

I enjoyed Boi de Conchas (The Shell Covered Ox) but it didn’t stay with me. I am more apt to remember the quiet moments of Rayane on the fishing boat with her dad, struggling to shirk off her sister’s absence than I am to try to piece together the strange correlation between missing teens and oxen. Yes, that gives our protagonist some sort of explanation but hardly any closure.

5 Out of 10