The unique twist on the coming-out story is practically a genre of its own. But writer/director Jeremy LaLonde’s Out succeeds in being a genuinely fresh walk down this well-worn path. Geoff (David Tompa) is a soft-spoken 20-something who’s never brought a girl home. When he has an announcement for his urban-living, liberal-minded parents, Mitch (David Huband) and Cindy (Rosemary Doyle), they’re ready for his revelation of queerness with open arms. So they’re surprised when he turns up for dinner with Kezia (Tommie-Amber Pirie), a pale-faced stranger who shares his secret.
Though they expect him to reveal his love of cock, it’s his love of blood he’s there to share. Geoff isn’t gay — he’s a vampire.
“It’s easy to tell a coming-out story in a way that’s dramatic and torturous,” LaLonde says. “But you can bring a lot more people in with a lighter, more satirical take. I’ve had a few friends who’ve gone through the process, only to find their parents already knew and had made peace with it, so they’re making a big deal out of nothing. I was interested in a version of that story that’s unique but also easily relatable.”
A graduate of Niagara College’s film program, LaLonde first conceived the piece while part of an online writers’ group. Different topics were proposed each session, and when the theme of vampires arose, his creative juices began flowing. “I’m not a horror filmmaker to begin with, so I started to wonder what I could do with the genre that was unique,” he says. “If you’ve recently become a vampire, your family’s obviously still alive, so you have to go and tell them. That brought the obvious parallel with coming out as gay.”
Since he identifies as straight, LaLonde spent a lot of time talking with friends about their own stories, intent on making something that was honest without being voyeuristic or exploitative.
“I definitely considered whether it would come up that I’m telling a story that’s outside of my realm,” he says. “How could a coming-out story possibly be personal to someone who’s not gay? But I think everyone has some kind of coming-out experience, where you have to reveal something about yourself to your family you’ve kept hidden. There’s the obvious story of coming out in terms of sexuality, but it could also be telling your family of doctors and lawyers you want to be an artist.”