a chilling cat-and-mouse game, Smoky Mountain style.
You know itís a funny old world, in that my review of writer / director Robert Gastonís previous film 2 Minutes Later concluded with the line "next time, more plot and less nudity - please" and thankfully this psychological thriller is exactly that. And itís all the better for it.
It tells the story of volatile Grady Wilson; an ex actor with a troubled past who has left the city behind to start life afresh in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. Officially the proprietor of the Blue Waters Mountain Lodge, he couldnít be more overjoyed when close friends Karen, Rue and estranged boyfriend Andy join him for a reunion in the off season. Silent investors in the failing business, they are soon to be greeted by Beetle Hobbs; a local boy whose good looks mask the mindset of a pathological liar, charming everyone Southern style, but out to rip them off any which way he can. Only will they realise his deceptive ways, before he can put into play his deadly game plan?
Giving renewed emphasis to the adage "keep your friends close and your enemies even closer," this unsettling tale is laced with characters not to be trusted. From
ubiquitous boyfriend Matthew Montgomery whose sole reason to be there is to break up, rather than to make up, to a young man who clearly would not win the 'Employee of the Year' award. Thankfully here David J Bonner shows us the natural actor, if unnecessarily every inch of the man he is, excelling as homicidal troublemaker Beetle Hobbs. Yet and like all works of this nature, itís only a matter of time before one of the group starts to question just whoís pulling the strings, resulting with Ross Beschler as mentally tormented Grady finally marking his territory like a cardinal, in the climatic final reel. Only is it a case of too little, too late?
For just like the Sam Zalutsky feature You Belong to Me, this marks a chilling cat-and-mouse game, even if the result is not as harrowing or as polished as what some may prefer. But it is a work that gets under your skin, as Gaston delights in such stock shocker elements as a remote location, psychotic local and the sudden loss of lighting to build a realistic sense of terror, having Beetle play with his prey, eavesdropping on their every conversation, so as to use choice information to his manipulative advantage. True, this is no Black Swan, but on a limited budget it sure is a rollercoaster ride of unnerving thrills, being refreshingly a film with gay characters in it, rather than a gay film per se. Need more be said?
Gay Visibility - post gay.
Nudity - the full monty.
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars.
starring: Ross Beschler / Grady Wilson, David J Bonner / Beetle Hobbs, Claire Bowerman / Karen Killington,
Matthew Montgomery / Andy Myer, Jeremy Marr Williams / Rye Manuel, Liz Douglas / Roslyn,
Z Joseph Guice / Arlis, Ella Mae Teesateskie / Marcia and
Michael Sheldon as the voice of Dr Fienstein.