Styled as “Grindr meets Get Out” this claustrophobic and at times atmospheric contemporary fable might make some think twice before popping the next anonymous pill with the next anonymous guy.
Josef King (Pascal Arquimedes) is over for a follow up date to a random hook up he made in a club with Jesse, whose real name is John (Donal Brophy). There is wine, food and conversation, and all seems to be progressing fairly mundanely until it turns into a conversation about the fun of taking drugs. Curious Josef sneaks a pill from John’s hidden stash. Josef’s increasingly odd behavior alerts John that all is not right. When Josef admits he has stolen a pill Jesse tells him the only drugs he has in the apartment are “experimental” with some serious side effects.
Josef and Jesse/John are archetypes. Josef is a younger supposedly small-town boy looking to make a difference in the world. Jesse is established, successful and has settled for finding a place in the world “shaped like me”. Skillfully played by Arquimedes and Brophy they inject watchable vibrancy into the roles while keeping a lid on the over the top elements of the script.
The first 20 minutes of the movie is admirably taut and feels like a clock ticking towards something unpleasant. It is an ordinary awkward date on the surface but an excessive focus on small details suggests something is about to unwind.
When Josef loses himself in the drugs there is a lesson in their downside. Confusion and displacement are interrupted by acts of threat and violence. Faces and characters morph into each other. Josef’s life, sexuality and accomplishments are interrogated. There are inappropriate and unwelcome sexual advances. An occasional delusion of grandeur. A fog of paranoia leaves him unable to think beyond his current circumstances to test if what is happening is real or if it makes sense.
The descent into drug fueled paranoia is over blown. By the end the lesson is too long and the moral a bit too familiar. At one point a policeman says to Josef “A word of advice, if you act guilty you will be treated like you are guilty” and it feels like a “Just Say No” campaign. Tighter discipline with the garish nightmare elements and a less obvious ending would have helped it live up to the promise of the first half.
Review by Andrew Hebden
Queerguru Correspondent Andrew Hebden is a MEDIA & CULTURAL STUDIES graduate spending his career between London, Beijing and NYC as an expert in media and social trends. As part of the expanding minimalist FIRE movement he recently returned to the UK and lives in Soho. He devotes as much time as possible to the movies, theatre and the gym. His favorite thing is to try something (anything) new every day.