I end my tenure here on the Picks of the Week column with writer-director Guillermo R Rodriguez’ 2007 psychological thriller The Shadows, which recently became available on DVD.
The film begins with horror novelist Stephen Grimes (Joe Lia) struggling to begin his sophomore book and just barely convincing his publisher that he’ll have it done in two weeks. He gets sidetracked, however, when he accidentally runs down a punkish queer boy (Emett Allen) who happens to share his last name.
The two Grimes quickly develop a more-than-friendly relationship, and Allen eventually convinces Lia to let go of many of his obligations and embrace his free-spirited lifestyle. But Allen isn’t all that he seems. Giving away any more details would spoil the film’s many twists.
Rodriguez keeps the film moving at a tight clip, and has clearly given much thought to giving all of his characters sordid little secrets to unfold. Unfortunately, what’s been less developed is the logic of all these secrets. Frankly, a lot of what happens in the story turns on some pretty ludicrous coincidences.
Also disappointing is that the film pauses to raise some rather interesting questions about ethnic, sexual and gender identity and how they intersect, but glosses over them rather than actually dealing with them. Some might say that’s too much to expect from a low-budget thriller, but I disagree. The psychological elements are the film’s hook and what makes it unique.
On the plus side, Lia turns in a rather good performance in quite a difficult role. Most of the interest in the Grimes’ dilemma comes from his charming turns in the lead role.
The technical work on the film is also quite lovely at times and manages to avoid the shot-on-home-video look of much queer video. Worth a look for fans of the genre.
Finally, thanks to everyone who participated in my script challenge last month. It was a pleasure to read your works, and I look forward to a good year for queer video.