Friday, June 25, 2010

Queer Cinema: HellBent

Here's the final installment in our Pride Month Queer Cinema series. Today: Everybody loves a parade!

This film describes itself as the first ever gay slasher film, which is true if you ignore Cruising or A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 or the oeuvre of David DeCoteau. It is, however, the first horror film set (at least as far as I know) during West Hollywood's infamous annual Halloween celebration.

The story follows four young, queer men as they enjoy the festivities, not quite aware they're being stalked by a ruthless serial killer/Colt model. As slasher films go, this one is pretty unremarkable, aside from the slight twist of the lead characters' sexuality. The victims are pursued, and knocked off one by one, as a masked madman takes their pretty little heads. But instead of a dusty summer camp, we've the bathrooms, dance floors, and back alleys of West Hollywood.

Still, it's all just the same: A killer in a Halloween mask chopping up feisty young lovers.

And as with most slasher films, this one oft times becomes implausible to the point of ridiculousness. I seriously doubt someone could have their head hacked off on a crowded dance floor and no one notice. Though, perhaps it's rather comforting to see that a movie aimed at a gay audience can be just as dumb as a heterocentric film of the same ilk. Maybe it means we've finally made it. One more item to cross off the Gay Agenda.

Of course, if you're looking for a film that shatters gay stereotypes, HellBent ain't it. If you're looking for a film that turns horror conventions in its head, HellBent ain't it either. But if you're looking for a mildly entertaining way to kill 85 minutes HellBent will do the trick. Don't expect too much and you won't be disappointed.

In fairness, the film looks pretty good and sounds pretty good (crappy queer-metal soundtrack aside (note to film producers: metal sucks, so stop mucking up our horror films with it)) for one made on a limited budget. It's one of the few movies shot on digital video that doesn't look like shit throughout. The performances are solid and the effects nicely handled. It's just too bad writer-director Etheredge-Ouzts couldn't find a more original story to tell.

Like I said, if you don't expect too much, you won't be disappointed.

Directed by Paul Etheredge-Ouzts • R • 2004 • 85 minutes

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