This handful of films has or supposedly has a queer bent, and a couple of them were brought to my attention by my readers, which I always appreciate. So do these four land on my does the gay guy die? page? Let’s find out.
DANIEL ISN’T REAL (2019)
I include this one from the director of Some Kind of Hate on this list only because I heard murmurings of gay vibes between the lead Luke and his imaginary friend Daniel. I just want to make it clear that I personally didn’t interpret it as homoerotic at all, and I think it is seriously time to stop desperately reading gay into every horror movie and actually watch gay horror movies or read gay horror fiction if you want your horror gay.
Having said that, I feel that Daniel Isn’t Real is a horror version of Drop Dead Fred with a good dose of Hellraiser Cenobites thrown in to intensify the horror.
Mary Stuart Masterson is back from the eighties and plays Luke’s mentally ill mother. When he’s a child she makes him lock his troublemaking imaginary friend in a doll house.
As a twenty something, Luke resurrects Daniel (played by Schwarzenegger’s son), who pushes him to be mischievous. For instance, in class Daniel removes his shirt…to reveal he is covered in answers to the test Luke is taking, not to turn him on.
He also pushes Luke to get with a girl. When it finally happens, that jealous look on Daniel’s face? Not gay. It’s because he realizes he can lose his friend Luke to this girl. Therefore he begins to sabotage that, first by taking over Luke’s body and fucking another girl. So not gay.
Then Daniel’s dark side comes out and he turns murderous, doing some freaky melding with Luke’s body to take care of business, which is not an uncommon theme in horror films (think Elm Street 2—the most homophobic, not homoerotic horror film ever).
Add to that the Cenobite type demons that terrorize Luke, and there really are some great horror scenes here, which elevates the film above an otherwise cliché plot.
THE DINNER PARTY (2020)
From Miles Doleac, the director of Hallowed Ground, this is a fairly predictable film that suffers from a waaaaaaay tooooo looooong running time.
A playwright comes to dinner at a mansion of pretentious artsy types in hopes of getting his career off the ground. In typical mainstream film fashion, it seems like a gay couple is throwing the party, but the most they share is a touch on the chest.
So to be honest, unless I was too busy wishing the film were gayer to hear any blatant references to their status, I can’t guarantee they’re supposed to be gay other than some stereotypical mannerisms. Meanwhile, the lesbianism in the film begins with a woman completely naked and ends with a lesbian kiss, and all women involved are of the lipstick variety. I’m going to guess Miles Doleac is straight…
Anyway, there’s almost an hour of talking around the table, with all the guests being bitchy and telling disturbing tales, plus there’s a bit of dabbling in a sort of Tarot card reading session. Through all of it, we learn mostly nothing about anyone. So much for using that hour to at least develop characters.
Suddenly (52 minutes in) the shit hits the fan, and this plays out like a high society version of the dinner scene from The Texas a Chainsaw Massacre…and simultaneously feels like an indie film company trying to make its own version of Ready Or Not.
JACK GOES HOME (2016)
Indie actor Thomas Dekker directs this semi-horror flick that has plenty of creepy situations suggesting something sinister or supernatural going on. However, this is more of a psychological horror and character study in the tradition of movies like Jacob’s Ladder. In other words, is the character really experiencing and seeing the things he thinks he is or is he just losing his mind?
Rory Culkin stars as a man who comes back home after his father passes in a car accident. Rory seems callous, uncaring, and aloof with his mother, played with detached, post-traumatic distance by Lin Shaye.
Their scene together at the dinner table alone is uncomfortable and compelling.
Rory discovers some cassettes and video tapes that hint at something dark from his family’s past, and his mother warns him not to go in the attic.
As Rory ponders life and his family’s dirty secrets, he becomes friends with the pretty gay boy next door, but it’s a contentious relationship and Rory is kind of a dick to him, even tossing some slurs his way at one point. But just like everything else in this film, the question of sexuality is at the forefront yet never fully developed or tied in to any concrete explanation as to what is going on. Still, this is the first film in this bunch that deserves a spot on the does the gay guy die? page for having a clearly openly gay character and gay situations.
There are some incredibly eerie moments, and Rory is even terrorized a few times by some ominous figures, but like I said, none of it ever comes together or makes any tangible sense. Despite some major developments along the way, we are left never knowing what was real and what was only in his grieving mind.
THE UNTAMED (2016)
It isn’t often that I have the patience for a slow burn, but just like Jack Goes Home, Spanish film The Untamed is hauntingly compelling…not to mention it has major sexual and homosexual themes.
Most significantly, it’s about oppression of sexuality in traditional Spanish family life, and it’s quite tragic even beyond its sci-fi creature feature aspects.
But be warned, after a sexually horrific opening of a woman being pleasured by “something” in a cabin, it’s not until an hour later that the creature really comes out to play. When it does, it is handled with such restraint yet so much dark eroticism that it’s quite icky.
Basically, a woman is trapped in a strained marriage, unaware that her husband is fucking her gay brother—in a good sex scene that even presents versatility between the two men!
Now that’s how you do gay in your horror. Because of its heavy focus on a gay character and a self-loathing, homophobic gay character, this one is going to get an honorary spot on my homo horror movies page.
A young woman befriends the brother and then sister and convinces both siblings that neither of them needs the husband…because great pleasures await in the cabin. Eek!
The film can really be read in a variety of ways, depending on how you want to interpret it. Either it’s suggesting that repressing our sexuality and sexual desires can lead us to do monstrous things or it could be saying that giving into our sexual desires and not leading a clean, “normal”, God-focused family life can have disastrous consequences. Viewer discretion decides.
The omnisexual sci-fi elements of the film remind me quite a bit of the film Harvest Lake. My only real gripe is that despite having a graphic gay sex scene between two human men, it’s only implied that the brother has a sexual encounter with the life form in the cabin in the middle of the film. It would have helped to present visual hints of his visit (like the opening scene with a girl) to offer a midway tease of what was yet to come, for a good chunk of the film plays out like a family drama without any promise of the horror on the horizon.