Oddly, this is the most mainstream of all the gay movies I’ve seen and probably the least so at the same time. It’s mainstream in that it holds its own with other serial killer genre movies such as Silence of the Lambs (although nowhere near on the level of that one). If you like that sort of movie, then I would think this one would appeal to you. However, it’s certainly not mainstream in that “everyone would enjoy it”. It’s very, very violent – pornographic in its violence really (by this I mean that’s it was often exploitative and gratuitous). Many of the deaths are shown in quite some graphic detail. The deaths are horrible, and if you are squeamish, then even if you want to see the gay content, I’d give this one a miss.
The thing that takes this movie up from the level of exploitative slasher film is the gay storyline. Just as in Silence of the Lambs, the interest in this movie is the relationship that exists between the killer, Jack, and the cop, Ramone. Manipulative, Jack manages to turn their one-night stand into the event that forces Ramone to come out at work. Then it’s a toss-up between who is more to be feared: Jack or Ramone’s fellow cops. The homophobia amongst his fellow detectives drives him closer to Jack, and Jack exploits this for his own ends.
The gay sex is shown in some detail throughout—not graphic exactly, but certainly as strong as you’d get in cert 18 het movies. These are hard men: cops, construction workers, firemen and if you’re into leather and rough sex then this film will hit the right buttons.
I think the thing that let this film down for me was the nihilism. I won’t give the ending away, but it all seemed rather bleak to me. There were opportunities to raise this to something really special, but that doesn’t seem to be what the director wanted. Is this another homophobic “gay” movie? You do have to wonder. In one scene, Jack tries to kiss Ramone and Ramone pulls away. Jack accuses him of being a homophobic gay—a term I’d not heard before. We saw Forgive and Forget the other day, and that purports to be a gay movie, but actually leaves you very confused and frightened about even the idea of coming out. This movie would make you want to stay in bed under the covers if you were gay. Ramone is beaten up at work and targeted by serial killers; Jack exploits young boys, seeing it as his mission to end their miserable street-hustler lives.
Are these movies secretly being made by homophobic straight people trying to reverse all the good works of gay rights, or have we come so far that now gays can be portrayed as serial killers without that being taken as a statement about the lifestyle?
I can’t say I exactly enjoyed this movie; it was too unrelenting for that. However, some of the gay sex is very sexy, and I will probably watch those scenes again. But, please, if you prefer your torture and blood in the written form, then stay away from this one. It’s very violent.
Afterword: After reading Cerisaye’s review, I went back to give this one another go. I enjoyed it far more the second time around once I could relax a little with the horror of the plot. You do imagine more than you actually see. This film has some really great gay sex in it. The men are so real and almost more hot because of that than the plastic model-boys of porn movies. There’s even one scene where you see a condom being peeled off an erection, which when you think this is an American movie, is really quite something. This movie is very bold and I only wish there were more like it.
Jack is the perfect serial killer, smart and sexy and very attractive. He can turn on a dime, from friendly and jocular to chilling and very, very scary. He’s on a mission, to save boy hustlers from a lifetime of shattered dreams. So they don’t end up like him. He’s into violent sex, all about power and mind games.
Raymond Vates is a detective newly promoted from uniform to homicide. He’s gay but not out, for fear of what that means for his prospects on the job. No one trusts a ‘fag’ cop to be man enough when the chips are down. In many ways Raymond is just like Jack. In fact Raymond could easily BE Jack, or vice versa. Raymond leads a double life.
Neither Jack nor Raymond likes to kiss. They’re both scared by what that means: feelings of love, affection, caring. They both have the same fear of confronting their sexuality. Raymond is divorced. He’s got a child, and a very supportive ex-wife. Jack hooks up with Andy, a security guard, worms his way into his family life, for the pleasure of wrecking it. He uses Andy, who accepts it as what he deserves.
Jack is Raymond’s type, not obviously gay, a man’s man. When Jack pretends to be a potential witness, they get together for some hot, hard sex. Very erotic, all that repressed desire, fighting for dominance and surrender. The film makes its point that self-loathing and shame makes Jack a monster, and Raymond question his suitability to be a good detective, without the implication it’s bad to be gay.
‘Where does all the hate come from?’ Raymond asks his partner, veteran Tom ‘Lucky’ Elliot. Tom is old school, but he knows a good cop and a good man, and it doesn’t matter if he’s gay or straight so long as he’s honest. The relationship between Raymond & Tom is beautifully done, from the moment Lucky discovers his partner in a very compromising position, part of Jack’s game plan to amuse himself and maybe persuade Raymond he’d be better off on his side. Because, as Jack tries later to demonstrate, when a gay cop calls for help nobody comes.
Homophobia is the focus of the movie. The most bigoted cop is the one who looks gay, and clearly has issues of his own- watch him cast an eye over a muscular hunk in the shower. Raymond’s fellow detectives on the squad, apart from Tom, aren’t interested in a case that involves dead kids no one’s going to miss, especially if they’re gay. We see colleagues beat Raymond to a bloody pulp, while his boss watches, unmoving.
This is a well-made film. It’s dark and very intense, absolutely gripping. There’s graphic violence but you don’t see as much as you think you do. It’s still pretty disturbing viewing, as Jack likes to string his young victims up and play with them. There are twists, and it took two or three screenings before I understood exactly what happened in the dramatic climax.
It’s ironic that a film about homophobia has been accused of being homophobic because it represents a gay character who is an evil, brutal killer and shows gay lifestyle with a cop who cruises leather bars for casual pick-ups. But it is realistic and balances negativity, with, for example, the character of Raymond’s gorgeous barkeep ex, who clearly loves and cares for him. Not for the squeamish, but not-to-be-missed if you’ve the stomach for it.