When it gets too dark - An analysis of Jaina Cipriano's "You don’t have to take orders from the moon

By Ava Fields for Boston Compass Blog

December 7, 2020



In Jaina Ciprianos short horror film You don’t have to take orders from the moon (2020), Cynthia feeds us her deepest secrets—exposing all her broken parts. We are immediately jolted into her world and out of our own through a series of chaotic fits. Within those fits she seeks her own salvation- and may have found it by the end.


When we first see Cynthia she is standing in the middle of the road—transfixed by traffic lights, disheveled, and unkept. She is weighted there-her face twisted in grief. As she shares her most inner thoughts it becomes clear she is reeling from an existential crisis—

“What’s it all for?” She posits. The rest of the film aims to answer that question.

Traffic lights play a huge part in the film— even though it’s in black and white. We know they exist to create a sense of order so the swift changes act as a portrait for her anxiety, disorientation, and listlessness. She wanders throughout the film like a ghost.


When she meets her friend Carol outside her home you can feel the confusion. Carol suggests Cynthia has been unreachable and distant from those around her. Mirrored against another reality Cynthia’s begins to crack, leading her deeper into a spiral.


In direct opposition to the film’s use of lights is the dark force looming within the plot. Cynthia calls it “He” or “Him”, sparring with anonymity. This force promises her everything she’s ever wanted if she does one thing—kill her mother. Throughout the film we’ve loosely heard how her mom was sick and “He” cured her— making the final scenes especially wrenching.


After killing her mother with a crescent shaped knife Cynthia stands high on a cliff— bathed in sunlight and steady in her fractured environment. She is ready to reap her rewards.


In our final scenes, Cynthia appears to be healed. She is in a new place, she is clean, she is smiling, and she is unrepentant. With her mother dead and her slate wiped clean she waves to “Him” out of the window with gratitude— grateful to be unburdened by connection.


And so we ask ourselves “Is this what it's all for?”

Watch Jaina Ciprianos' short film:


—Ava Fields