If you’re looking for a gay slasher, look elsewhere. Director Jeff London’s double feature DVD has two short films that take an old school approach—tension building slow burner with one big monster reveal zinger at the end. When Darkness Falls and The Best of Care remind me of the kinds of stories you’d see in anthology films like Tales from the Crypt (I’m talking 1972 Tales from the Crypt) or The Vault of Horror.
When Darkness Falls is virtually a full-length feature, running just over an hour long. A cutie named Kevin brings his new adorable man Danny to a secluded house for some alone time. Danny immediately notes that the situation is like something out of a horror film and that he’s completely helpless if Kevin is a psycho (I can attest that the Danny writing this would be thinking the same exact thing). Kevin acts kind of creepy and weird and tells a spooky urban legend about a vicious killer buried in a nearby cemetery.
Okay, so all the in-jokes and winks to slashers do make this feel like a gay Scream. There are numerous suspense scenarios hinting at it as well, but they all turn out to be false alarms. When Kevin and Danny eventually stop talking and try to get down to business, even the classic killer POV and heavy breathing tell us there’s probably a masked murderer on the prowl! Eventually, some more victims—I mean—friends arrive and the truth behind Kevin’s scary story comes out. Or should I say up…from the grave!
The twist at the end delivers the horror payoff but it is a little jarring because the film completely switches perspective to that of a lesser character. It’s also the first time any actual humor is injected. Some of the lines made me chuckle. Plus, the guy playing the real threat is devilishly good in his role.
This is also when the gay sensibilities come out, so-to-speak. Despite a scene of two shirtless guys kissing, the majority of the film is quite reserved and feels more like a bunch of college dudes hanging out (Danny even says it’s his first guy date). If your thing is frat types suddenly going gay, you have something extra to look forward to with this one.
While the nonstop faux scare setups in When Darkness Falls manage to throw you off track, keep you wondering when the real danger is going to come, and make the conclusion very satisfying, due to the “Twilight Zone” feel of the plot, I could easily see this one being paired down to 30-35 minutes for a feature-length anthology film that would also include…
The short film The Best of Care. Running under 30 minutes, this one is the perfect length for an anthology film. Here, we have a man (one of the actors from When Darkness Falls) as the caregiver for his very ill partner, although we’re never told what the illness is. Instead, the film focuses on the toll any debilitating disease can take physically and emotionally on both the afflicted and his partner.
The sick partner is unrelentingly miserable and verbally abusive, and you know it’s just a matter of time before his partner can’t take it anymore, despite his endless efforts to make it a nice Christmas for them. If you know your horror, you can guess what happens next, and as horror revenge tales go, you can imagine what happens after that! There’s even a very Salem’s Lot window-billowing fog scene. The Best of Care is totally a tale for a gay horror anthology.
And so that’s why I wish there had been a third short to make this an anthology. We’re about due for a homo Creepshow.