So glad to see two new queer films hit streaming in one month, neither of which shies away from queer sex content, but don’t go into these expecting fun midnight popcorn movies for your big gay sleepovers.
If you’re looking for a fun slasher starring queer people, look elsewhere. This is yet another commentary on the struggles of queer people that focuses on tortured young gay people being further tortured. Ugh.
I don’t know who the target audience is supposed to be for this movie. Gay audiences know about these real-life horrors and some might even be seriously triggered by them, straight audiences most likely don’t want to know and will be screaming, “woke woke woke!”, and lovers of slashers will be left wondering why the first of approximately only two major kill scenes doesn’t occur until an hour and 22 minutes into this hour and 44-minute movie.
After an opening kill, a diverse group of queer people is brought to a conversion camp, where they are warmly welcomed by the camp leader, Kevin Bacon, his counselors, and his wife, played by Arlene from True Blood. Bacon promises the camp is only for people who are unhappy and want to change, not conversion and not God based, but you can tell it’s just a matter of time before Bacon simply reprises his sadistic role from White Water Summer.
The problem with the film (aside from forgetting it’s supposed to be a horror movie for the majority of its runtime) is that scenes are drawn out in an effort to go deep and check every box of gender and orientation issues from both sides, including the hypocrisy of the converters. You end up sitting there praying someone will die soon, and that hopefully it will be one of the hateful counselors so you’ll feel some sense of vindication for having watched the film. I mean, you know a slasher is poorly paced when even the sex scenes bore you (there are two—pussy-eating girls, and ass-fucking guys).
Hell, there’s a “straight” sex scenes that’s more compelling than the queer sex scenes.
Some of the in-between filler includes a montage of the kids singing P!nk’s “Fuckin’ Perfect”, a forgettable red herring encounter that leads to one quick death early on, an excessively long shooting range scene that involves killing a dog, a reference to Friday the 13th (a necessity since Kevin Bacon was in the original), and an aversion therapy sequence.
Forget scares, suspense, chase scenes, or intense, violent and gory kills, because there’s not much of any of that—what few kills we get are super rushed. And to be honest, if you’re in it for a whodunit, you’ll probably be disappointed as well. I guessed who the killer was within the first 30-minutes.
If you want a slasher in which happily gay people get killed off by a masked killer, there are other options on the homo horror movies page…or you could also read my sexy scary campy gay Halloween novel Scream, Queen! in my book Wet Screams. Heh heh.
Once again, it’s a movie you don’t go into if you’re looking for a gay horror romp. And once again, this is a deep dive—even deeper than They/Them—into the mental state of a troubled queer character that could very well bring down viewers who have had similar personal experiences in real life. It’s a wonderfully made film, and the lead actor is great, but this is some heavy content that tackles a whole lot of aspects of mental illness and how it affects both the person suffering with it and the people around that person.
As for the horror, this is all metaphorical, so don’t expect any concrete scares here. The shock moments are embedded in the main character’s delusions, hallucinations, dreams…in other words, it’s all faux scares created through blaring sounds and sudden flashes of fear on the screen—the kind of cheap scares tween horror of the last decade has relied on so heavily.
The main character even gets his own version of a Donnie Darko mascot, which is initially quite creepy, but knowing it’s not real and all in his mind just sucks the scares right out of it rather quickly.
It was kind of a bummer for me, because when we first meet our main man he seems happy and stable. He has a great relationship, a good job that he loves, and a cool boss, played by little Gracie from The Nanny.
Then he gets a package and audio recording from his mentally ill mother, and that unleashes all the issues whirling around in his mind.
The description of the film on IMDb suggests that he is haunted by physical manifestations of his past trauma, but that’s not correct; this is a tale about a man who is haunted by the darkness clouding his own mind.
In the past this might have been considered an art house film, but these days we have upgraded that label, and this one could easily be slapped with an “elevated horror” label. Definitely only go into this one if you’re in the right frame of mind for it and you know what you’re getting into.
Why does that monster butt munch scene seem so familiar? Oh, yeah…because I starred in a similar scene for the promo for my book Screams of Laughter and a Shock of Hair. Heh heh.